Cardiff Blues star Owen Lane has received a shock call-up by Wales following the injury to Josh Navidi.
The back -rower’s World Cup was ended by a hamstring injury he suffered against France, with Warren Gatland confirming the news upon arrival in Tokyo this evening.
Gatland also revealed that he would not be calling up a back-rower to replace Navidi, feeling they have enough cover in that department with five other fit and healthy options to choose from.
With injury star center pairing Jonathan Davies (knee) and Hadleigh Parkes (shoulder) battling injuries, Gatland has felt the need to bolster his back division.
WalesOnline understands that Lane left Cardiff this morning (UK time) to join up with the Wales squad ahead of the crunch semi-final against South Africa in Yokohama this weekend.
Last season, the winger scored 11 tries in 18 appearances for the Cardiff Blues, and his kicked off this campaign with a try in the season opener against Edinburgh.
Gatland is thought to be a long-time admirer of the 21 – year-old, who was named in the Wales’ wider World Cup training squad earlier this summer.
He had one chance to impress in the World Cup warm-up matches, scoring against Ireland in Cardiff, but Gatland went with the experience of Hallam Amos in his final 31 – man squad.
But Lane is now on his way out to Japan and he has a chance to stake a claim for a spot in the matchday 23 for Sunday’s clash.
Wales vs France reaction
The other option for Gatland was to go with experienced center Scott Williams, who would be the logical choice given the fitness concerns are over two centers.
However, Williams hasn’t played a lot of rugby in the last 12 months, with his 2018 / 19 season hampered by hamstring and then back problems. When he first arrived at Wales’ training camp this summer, he struggled to pick a ball up off the floor, such was the extent of his back troubles.
That lack of game time has counted against him and the electric Lane gets the nod.
In the event one of the centers does go down, it’s likely that wing George North will be seen as cover at outside center, a role that he has fulfilled in the past, including at the last Rugby World Cup.
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