Six Nations 2014: Wales suffer Ryan Jones injury blow
Six Nations 2014: Wales suffer an injury blow after being forced to release Ryan Jones from their training camp
Wales’ chances of defending their Six Nations title continue to be blighted by injury problems after Ryan Jones was released from their training camp.
The Ospreys forward picked up a hamstring injury during Friday night’s defeat in Leinster and was returned to his region, with James King called up in his place.
At the weekend, Jones was expected to miss the opening two Six Nations encounters against Italy and Ireland, but the decision to release him suggests Wales’ most-capped captain could miss the tournament.
A Wales statement said: “Wales have released Ospreys back-row Ryan Jones back to his region due to injury. Jones met up with the squad this morning as they began preparations for the forthcoming Six Nations and has been ruled out with a hamstring injury.
“Jones’ regional team-mate James King, who made his debut for Wales last summer in Japan, has been called into the squad.
“Two further players have been called to train with the national squad. Newport Gwent Dragons hooker Sam Parry and Scarlets second-row Jake Ball will begin training with the squad from tomorrow (Tuesday).”
In better news for head coach Warren Gatland, Wales captain Sam Warburton looks to have won his battle to be fit for the campaign after recovering from a shoulder nerve damage sustained in November – and centres Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies should also be fit.
Warburton missed the chance to line up for Cardiff Blues in their Heineken Cup defeat by Exeter Chiefs on Saturday and a lack of match fitness could see the flanker miss the opening Six Nations encounter against Italy at the Millennium Stadium on 1 February.
Gatland faces the prospect of starting his captain against the Azzurri having not played a match in two months if he does not play in the Blues’ LV= Cup match this weekend against Bath.
Ball’s call-up to the training squad provides cover in the second row with Ian Evans facing a disciplinary hearing this week for an alleged stamp on Leinster’s Mike McCarthy on Friday night.
Should the Ospreys giant be banned, he is likely to miss the tournament leaving Gatland short of options should Alun Wyn Jones or Luke Charteris pick up injuries.
In the backs, Roberts successfully came through a tough Heineken Cup clash for Racing Metro against Top 14 rivals Clermont Auvergne to ease the injury problems at centre.
Scarlets’ Scott Williams is the only fully fit recognised centre available to Gatland with Davies believed to be out for the first two matches, and Cory Allen and Owen Williams (both Blues – shoulder and hamstring respectively), Ashley Beck (Ospreys – calf strain) unlikely to return.
Perpignan’s James Hook can play at centre, but his presence in the squad is as third-choice stand-off.
Whilst talk of dynamic winger George North switching to centre as he did in the latter stages against Australia in November has also been dismissed, with Wales short of options on the wing because of injury problems with at least six understudies to North and Alex Cuthbert.