New Zealand v Wales, Hamilton, June 26
Bishop injury blow for Wales
June 20, 2010
Centre Bishop broke his hand during Wales' mauling at the hands of the All Blacks at Carisbrook © Getty Images
Wales centre Andrew Bishop has been ruled out of Saturday's final Test match against New Zealand after breaking his hand during the 42-9 defeat to the All Blacks in Dunedin.
The 24-year-old Ospreys midfielder suffered the injury late in the match and X-rays confirmed the break which will keep him out of action for a month. "Andrew has a spiral fracture to the third metacarpal bone in his right hand," Wales physiotherapist Mark Davies said. "The injury is not complex but he is in plaster and will be out of action for the next four weeks."
Fly-half Stephen Jones also suffered a hand injury during the second half at Carisbrook but he requires further assessment before a decision will be made on his participation in the remainder of the tour. "Stephen has a sore thumb. He has been X-rayed but the initial results are inconclusive and we are arranging for a further scan to fully determine the extent of the injury," said Davies.
No replacement will be called in for Bishop and a final decision will be made on Jones and any potential replacement for the fly-half during the next 24 hours. Mike Phillips switched to centre when Bishop was forced off as Jonathan Davies had already come on as a replacement.
With Davies now likely to join Jamie Roberts in the centres Will Harries could find himself on the replacements' bench as backs cover if Gatland chooses to stick with the same back three of Lee Byrne, Tom Prydie and Leigh Halfpenny.
Captain Ryan Jones has called on his players to dig deep and display some strength of character as they look to bounce back from the five tries to none humbling. The Ospreys back rower likened the situation to the one the 2008 Grand Slam-winning team found themselves in in South Africa two years ago, when they were crushed 43-17 by the Springboks in the first Test but produced a far better performance in the second to lose just 37-21 in Pretoria.
"It's about picking yourself up and dusting yourself off because there is next week," he said. "We can't give up, pack up and go home. We've got to show a bit of character."
Byrne echoed his captain's sentiments and expected his team-mates would respond strongly. "It will be a test of our character now. Obviously the boys are going to be a bit down at the moment after that (loss)," the fullback said. "But I'm sure in the week we'll have a good couple of days to regenerate and recoup. We'll get our heads back on Wednesday and I'm sure there's boys here biting to have another go and that's the good thing about it. We can put it right in a short space of time. Sometimes you don't get another chance."
Jones was adamant fitness was not an issue after Wales fell off the pace in the second half when the Dan Carter-inspired All Blacks carved through the flagging defence. "I think we were okay physically. When a team goes points up and things are going to hand and they play the way they did it becomes incredibly difficult," the Wales skipper said. "I don't think the physical gulf is there anymore. I think it's more about being technically accurate and having the top two inches which we've talked about all week. It's something we can address this week."
Byrne agreed, "The difference between the two teams at the moment is taking chances. They took their chances and we didn't. You can't give a team like that turnovers. We knew what their strengths were and that was one of them. But we had no answers really. We are learning and hopefully we will put an 80-minute performance together and beat one of the big boys."
Coach Warren Gatland said the team would be in "lock down" in the coming days as they look to find the solutions to stopping the All Blacks counter-attacking game.
"We keep saying you only learn by playing the best and there are a lot of positives for us," he added. "But there are some negatives that we need to work on and eradicate and fix and that's why we get a great chance next week."