Warren Gatland’s Kiwi setback for Six Nations

Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Wales v England - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Britain - February 23, 2019 Wales head coach Warren Gatland during the warm up before the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

Returning Wales coach Warren Gatland has walked straight into an unwanted injury problem ahead of the Six Nations with luckless Kiwi playmaker Gareth Anscombe struggling with a significant shoulder injury.

Gatland has come back to take the coaching reins from fellow New Zealander Wayne Pivac who was sacked as Wales’ form continued to dip alarmingly this year, highlighted by losses to Italy and Georgia.

Anscombe was Gatland’s first-choice No 10 in the 2019 Grand Slam campaign before he suffered a horror knee injury that sidelined him for more than two years.

Gatland felt the absence of Anscombe hindered their 2019 World Cup campaign in Japan. The master coach singled out Anscombe, the former Blues and Chiefs player, for his good form in Wales’ recent horror autumn test series, hinting he saw a major role for him in the hoped-for revival of the Red Dragons.

But now it seems Gatland will have to do without Anscombe, 31, once again. He hurt his shoulder in the recent loss to the Wallabies and his Ospreys club has painted a gloomy scenario.

“Gareth Anscombe is a long-term injury,” said Ospreys head coach Toby Booth told Wales Online, likening it to the injury that kept their Wales flanker Justin Tipuric out of action for more than a year.

“He’s in the same scenario that Justin Tipuric was in with his shoulder blade, so that’s a difficult one. We’ll see how that goes.

Gareth Anscombe was in good form for Wales before disaster struck against the Wallabies in late November.
“He’s back in the building and doing everything he can to get back as soon as he can.

“It’s not as bad as Justin’s. The timeline is still going to be pretty lengthy, though. It depends on how the bone growth goes, which is an individual thing.”

Wales open their Six Nations campaign with a home test against world No 1 Ireland on February 5.

Booth can’t see Anscombe making that date.

“It’s going to be unlikely, for sure. But we just want to get him back playing as soon as we can, whenever we can.”

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