Wales wing North out of NZ series

2016-06-13 07:16
George North (Getty)

Wellington - Wales star wing George North was ruled out of the All Blacks series on Monday, adding to a mounting injury toll that leaves the tourists looking for fringe players to step up.

North was a standout in Wales' 39-21 first Test loss but pulled up lame late in the match, with subsequent examinations confirming his tour was over.

"North suffered a hamstring injury in the first Test in Auckland, ruling him out of Wales' remaining games," the team said in a statement.

His absence means coach Warren Gatland is without some first-choice players for the remaining two Tests, stretching his squad's depth.

The sick list gives fringe players the chance to push for Test selection in a tour match against Super Rugby team the Waikato Chiefs on Tuesday.

Only two players from the starting XV that lost 39-21 to New Zealand in the first Test in Auckland have been named in the 23-man match-day squad to face the Chiefs.

Gatland - a Kiwi who grew up in Hamilton - said it was a "huge opportunity" for players to prove themselves.

"Coming all the way to New Zealand, it was important we had a big enough squad for the three Tests but also to provide game time for the players on tour," he said.

"This match gives the players a chance to stake their claim for the final two Tests against the All Blacks."

The Chiefs have been one of the form Super Rugby teams this year but are without eight players on All Blacks duty, including Aaron Cruden and Sam Cane.

For the Welsh, Ospreys wing Eli Walker will be eying North's Test spot but needs a strong performance against the Chiefs to hold off the challenge from teen sensation Keelan Giles.

Giles is flying to New Zealand after impressing at the World Rugby U20 Championship, where he scored two tries in a one-point loss to Ireland.

He also bagged three tries during this year's U20 Six Nations, showing pace, decision-making and power in contact.

He joins a steady stream of new players arriving in New Zealand over the past week as Welsh injuries mount.

Scrumhalf Aled Davies touched down a few hours ahead of the first Test to replace Lloyd Williams who suffered an ankle injury in training.

Prop Aaron Jarvis also had to rush over after Paul James was sidelined by a calf injury, and Rhys Patchell arrived Monday as potential cover for Gareth Anscombe and Liam Williams.

Even before the tour began, Wales were forced to leave behind flankers Dan Lydiate and Justin Tipuric as well as wing Alex Cuthbert because of injuries.

Wales have not defeated the All Blacks since 1953 and have never beaten them in New Zealand.

The second of three Tests takes place in Wellington on Saturday.

Read more on:    wales  |  george north  |  rugby

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