Gareth Anscombe, robbed of his chance of making the initial Wales’ World Cup squad due to injury, will get his chance after all following his rehabilitation and call-up today.
And Wales assistant coach Rob Howley said Anscombe’s Super Rugby experience – he played for the Blues and Chiefs as a first-five or fullback before moving to the Cardiff Blues – will stand him in good stead as he joins a squad on a high after their thrilling 28-25 win over England at Twickenham.
“We saw glimpses of his quality when he came on against Ireland in the home game [before World Cup] – his ability to get the ball through his hands very quickly, his organisation and communication qualities are very good and we’ll no doubt see his ability whether it’s at 10 or 15,” said Howley.
“Warren Gatland has spoken many times about his experience in Super Rugby and I”m sure we’ll see Gareth in good shape. He’s a quality player and I’m looking forward to working with him.”
The 24-year-old Anscombe and James Hook have been called up as replacements for Scott Williams and Hallam Amos, who were injured at Twickenham, a victory which has thrown the “Pool of Death” wide open again and has put England under real pressure of exiting the tournament.
All Blacks flanker Sam Cane, a former teammate of Anscombe’s at the Chiefs, said he was looking forward to catching up with his mate in Cardiff. Wales play Fiji at the Millennium Stadium on Friday, a day before the All Blacks play Georgia at the same venue.
“It would be nice for him,” Cane said before Anscombe’s call-up was confirmed. “He came over here with that goal and cruelly got injured a week before the team got named. He’s worked hard and good on him for pursuing it over here. It would be nice to see him get the call.”
Rugby World Cup headlines – Sept 29
A victory over Fiji will seal Wales’ place in the quarter-finals, and they have been handed a boost by the banning of giant wing Nemani Nadolo for a tip-tackle in the match against Australia.
Howley said: “His ability to score tries is second to none. It’s disappointing the Rugby World Cup and supporters see a player miss out on a big game and we all know it’s a big game.”
Fiji assistant coach Tabai Matson, an assistant at the Crusaders where Nadolo also plays, said discipline was key in this tournament.
“We understand that discipline is critical at this level. You get away with things at the tier below that you just won’t get away with at the Rugby World Cup.”
“World Rugby have done a really great job in making clear how they are going to deal with those kind of incidents. It’s great to see. If it benefits the players, we are all for it as a nation.”
“But even for us now, our discipline has let us down and that, against the big teams, can lead to three, six or nine points, when you are a man down. Then you are chasing the game. So, it is a critical part of our success.”
– Patrick McKendry in Cardiff