Leigh Halfpenny has officially been ruled out of playing in the Rugby World Cup later this month. The Welsh full-back suffered a serious injury during the team’s warm-up game against Italy on Saturday. He had to be stretchered off the pitch after being seen visibly in pain after landing from a jump.
It is a sad day for Welsh rugby fans who had high hopes for the team. In 62 appearances for the team, Halfpenny has scored 508 points, according to BBC News. He is one of the most popular full-backs in rugby union, and there were high expectations for him during the World Cup season. A cruciate ligament injury has ruled him out completely, the Welsh Rugby Union has confirmed.
There are now questions over who will replace him in the team for the World Cup. The main option is Liam Williams, but he has not played a game since having surgery on his foot three months ago. The team has not yet confirmed a decision over a replacement, but one is needed soon, and Williams is expected to be the choice. Wales’ first game will take place on September 20, against Uruguay in Cardiff. The team will later face England, Australia and Fiji. England and Australia both have traditionally strong teams, leaving Wales fans worrying about the team getting through the group stages.
There are many questioning Warren Gatland’s decision to place Leigh Halfpenny in the team during Italy’s game at the weekend. Shane Williams, former captain for Wales, says that the full-back looked to already have an injury. Halfpenny stepped on the pitch with his right leg strapped. Fox Sports Australia reports that Williams continued saying that losing Leigh is a “massive kick in the teeth.” He has consistently been a play to help get the team out of trouble over the last four or five seasons.
Former rugby players from other teams have offered their sympathies to the renowned player. Johnny Wilkinson acknowledged that Halfpenny is “more intense” than he has ever been, and just wants to play a game he loves.
The news follows the blow that Rhys Webb may also be out of the team. The scrum-half was inflicted with an ankle injury during the same game that saw Halfpenny’s exit. At the moment, there is no confirmation he is definitely out of the World Cup, but it does not look promising, and he may join Leigh Halfpenny on the bench.
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