Warren Gatland has admitted his players have been left all shook up by Fiji and that some will find themselves in unfamiliar positions when they come back down to ground for their final World Cup pool match in Japan.
The Wales coach says he will be forced to pick some of his squad out of position against Uruguay as Gatland’s team paid a painful price for progress into the quarter-finals.
Dan Biggar, Josh Adams and Jonathan Davies were all injured against the Fijians who gave Wales a scoreboard fright as well as a physical one before they were finally suued, 29-17.
So, there was no repeat of Nantes in 2007, but Oita in 2019 turned out to be another bone-crushing and nerve-jangling encounter against the formidable Fijians.
Biggar was left groggy with a second head injury and has been ruled out of the last pool game against the Uruguayans on Sunday after being forced from the field in the second half following a sickening collision with Liam Williams.
There are further concerns over hat-trick hero Adams and centre Davies, with both suffering leg injuries.
“He (Biggar) didn’t do an HIA (head injury assessment), it was just because of the contact (that) he was just removed from the field,” said Gatland.
“Which means he’s not in consideration for Sunday and he’ll have to go through the protocols and we’ll probably have to get someone in to have a look at him as well.”
It was Biggar’s second head knock at the tournament after he was taken from the field following a collision with Australia centre Samu Kerevi during the previous pool win in Tokyo.
Rhys Patchell has backed up Biggar at fly-half but Gatland was unsure who he would have in reserve if Patchell went down.
“I don’t know, we’ll probably sit down as coaches and look at that,” he said.
“Some players are going to have to back up (against Uruguay), we may have a 6-2 (forwards-backs) split.
“We’ve got players who will be a little unfamiliar but we have been running players at training in those positions.
“With the short turnaround we need to freshen some players up and hopefully we’re good enough to do the job on Sunday to secure this group.”
Gatland played down concerns over Adams and Davies as “dead legs” but said linchpin centre Davies would be taken for a scan, having been struck on the knee in a collision.
The costly bonus point win put Wales top of Pool D ahead of second-placed Australia.
Victory over Uruguay would ensure Wales stay top and enjoy a potentially kinder route through the quarter-finals against the runner-up of Pool C.
Pool C rivals England and France are scheduled to play off for top spot in Yokohama on Saturday but the match has been thrown in doubt by the approaching Typhoon Hagibis.
Although Wales will be forced into player management contingencies ahead of the knockouts, Gatland was pleased with his team’s ability to rally twice from behind in a see-sawing and highly entertaining contest against the Fijians.
“It was tough but there was some real character displayed,” he said. “We’re absolutely delighted (to be in the quarter-finals). I think everyone’s fear is to try to get out of your pool.”
Adams grabbed a hat-trick of tries as a battered and bruised Wales finally took control in the last quarter.
In a frenzied clash under the roof at Oita Stadium, the Fijians surged into the lead early in the second half of the Pool D match.
A penalty try to Fiji produced a huge scare for Welsh fans butut Adams steadied the ship with his hat-trick try on the hour-mark and full-back Liam Williams crossed 12 minutes from the end to settle the game.
The result ensured Wales, with 14 points, leapfrogged Australia (11 points) to top the pool ahead of their final clash against Uruguay.