Ospreys’ prop Adam Jones looks set to be rules out of contention for the entirety of this season’s 6 Nations tournament following news that he damaged elbow ligaments in his side’s loss to London Irish in last weekend’s Heineken Cup fixture.
The news will be a huge blow to Wales coach Warren Gatland, who is already without Jones’ fellow international front rower Gethin Jenkins. Jenkins last week underwent surgery on a toe injury that has plagued him for much of the season and now Jones awaits the results of a scan that should come through today.
At the very least the 64 times Wales capped forward will be out for a number of weeks, while if the problem is a bad as first predicted by Ospreys Director of Rugby Scott Johnson, he could be missing for a much longer period.
Johnson yesterday warned Gatland that it is likely that he will be without the services of the Abercrave born scrummager for the whole of this season’s championships. This would signal somewhat of an injury crisis for Wales, who open this season’s campaign at home to England on Friday 4th February. Between them Jones and Jenkins have amassed 138 Wales caps, as well as having the experience of attending three British and Irish Lions’ tours between them as well.
Gatland will therefore have to rely on the likes of Jones’ fellow Ospreys forward Paul James and possibly also Duncan Jones, who will have felt his international career had come to an end having not turned out on the red of his country since the 2009 summer tour to North America when a large contingent of Wales first choice side were touring with the Lions in South Africa.
None the less, Gatland will feel that his side are missing something both at set pieces and in broken play without his two clear first choice props of recent a year.
Further injury worries are present in the backline for Wales as, following the weekend’s rugby, centres Gavin Henson and Tom Shanklin both confirmed they sustained injuries. Henson, having only just returned to the rugby pitch with Saracens in recent weeks, has a calf strain having come on as a substitute against Leinster, while Shanklin, capped 70 times for Wales, has injured his knee. Although the full extent of the injury is not yet known it has been confirmed he will take no part in this season’s tournament.
Added to the list is also Ospreys’ centre Andrew Bishop who will be out for three weeks, and Cardiff Blues scrum half Richie Rees will also be missing as he currently serves a suspension for violent conduct.
This leaves Gatland with the readymade pairing of James Hook and Jamie Roberts as his centre partnership for the England match, and although this is by no means a second rate partnership, it leaves Gatland with very few options to change things if his side suffer injuries or lose form throughout the championships.
Gatland will therefore be praying that his players suffer no further injuries ahead of his squad announcement on 23rd January.