Alex Cuthbert

Alex Cuthbert during a Wales training session. Pic: Getty Images

Wales Accept Injury Risk And Reward As South Africa Loom Before World Cup Beckons

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By Gareth James

Wales have had boost with the return of Alex Cuthbert and Johnny Williams from injury, with both available for Saturday’s World Cup warm-up Test against South Africa – but there is still concern over hooker Dewi Lake.

Cuthbert and Williams missed Wales’ back-to-back clashes with England but the two backline players have been passed fit and in contention to start against the Springboks as they bid for a place in the 33-man squad to be named on Aug. 21.

But the worries remain over the availability of Lake and new loose forward Taine Plumtree for the World Cup in France.

Lake went off early in Saturday’s defeat by England at Twickenham with a knee injury while Plumtree damaged his shoulder as he won only his second cap.

The new skipper looked emotional on the sidelines after coming off after 26 minutes and has had a torrid time with injuries over the last 12 months, including missing the Six Nations earlier this year with a knee problem.

Wales can ill afford another setback as they are short of quality hookers. Ken Owens is out of the World Cup with a back injury and last week Ryan Elias was forced off after six minutes with a hamstring problem as Wales beat England in Cardiff.

Loose forward Taine Basham must undergo a series of head injury protocols after he failed a Head Injury Assessment (HIA) test following a high tackle by Owen Farrell, which saw the England captain dismissed.

Wales assistant coach Alex King said: “You’re damned if you do and damned it you don’t when it comes to picking players for these [warm-up] games.

“You need to be battle-hardened going into the World Cup but unfortunately injuries happen so we’re keeping our fingers crossed for those two guys that they’re not too bad

“It’s been great to see Cuthy and Johnny back training. You can lose a couple and gain a couple but it’s all about building the depth of squad.”

The Springboks arrived in Cardiff at the weekend and have been training with a fully fit squad that includes skipper Siya Kolisi.

The captain has recovered from knee surgery at the end of last season and could return against Wales on Saturday.

Springboks assistant coach Daan Human said: “I think Siya is in a very good place. He is taking contact and he scrummed with us as well.

“He has given us everything, which we expect. In my department, I am very happy with what I’ve seen.

“Hopefully, he can put in a good shift, whether that is this weekend or next weekend, because we don’t know when he is going to be let loose.

“I just think that he is one of the dogs you want in the fight, whenever he does get set loose.”

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