Wales fullback Leigh Halfpenny ruled out of Rugby World Cup

Toulon star suffered ACL injury against Italy and could be out for six months

Leigh Halfpenny of Wales receives medical treatment after suffering an ACL injury during the World Cup warm-up against Italy at the Millennium Stadium  in Cardiff. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Leigh Halfpenny of Wales receives medical treatment after suffering an ACL injury during the World Cup warm-up against Italy at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

 

Wales fullback Leigh Halfpenny has been ruled out of the World Cup after suffering knee ligament damage in the World Cup warm-up win over Italy at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

“Wales fullback Leigh Halfpenny has suffered an ACL injury, ruling him out of the forthcoming Rugby World Cup, ” a Welsh Rugby Union statement read.

“Leigh will undergo further examination and assessment before further details are announced.”

Halfpenny was injured on a desperate day for Wales as scrumhalf Rhys Webb, last season’s Welsh player of the year, damaged ankle ligaments and is also in serious danger of missing the World Cup.

The Toulon fullback’s worst fears were confirmed by the scan results and reports in France suggested Halfpenny could be out of rugby for as long as six months.

Halfpenny’s World Cup absence is a huge blow for Warren Gatland’s side as the reliable goal-kicker has scored 508 points in 62 Tests, with only Neil Jenkins and Stephen Jones scoring more points for Wales.

Coach Gatland must now summon replacements this week with British and Irish Lions pair James Hook and Mike Phillips – together with New Zealand-born Gareth Anscombe – in the frame for World Cup calls.

Gloucester utility back Hook and Racing 92 scrumhalf Phillips were both cut from Gatland’s training squad last month, but their combined experience counts for more than 170 Wales caps.

Cardiff Blues back Anscombe is currently recovering from an ankle problem and, like Hook, offers goal-kicking expertise, although that key role seems set to be handed to outhalf Dan Biggar.

Liam Williams, who is poised to take a full part in training this week after being laid low by a foot injury, is the obvious candidate to take over Halfpenny’s fullback duties, with fellow Scarlet Gareth Davies the most likely starter at scrumhalf in Webb’s absence.

Wales’ first Pool A fixture is against Uruguay on September 20th before they play England at Twickenham six days later. Fiji and Australia are also in the so-called ‘Pool of Death’.

“Further medical updates regarding the national squad will be made when available,” the WRU said in a statement.

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