Gareth Anscombe to make Wales return after more than two years out

  • Fly-half ruptured knee ligaments in August 2019
  • ‘He’s still got the fight and desire, if anything, probably more so’

Gareth Anscombe will make a first Wales appearance since August 2019 and complete his recovery from a horror knee injury when he starts against New Zealand, the country of his birth, on Saturday.

Anscombe had more than two years on the sidelines after rupturing knee ligaments against England at Twickenham over two years ago. The 30-year-old finally returned to action with his new side Ospreys this season. Now he is ready for a Test comeback and Anscombe will be named as the Wales head coach Wayne Pivac’s playmaker on Thursday morning when he announces his side to face the All Blacks.

It will be some return for Anscombe, who was born in Auckland and played for New Zealand at under-20 level before moving to Wales who he qualifies for through his Cardiff-born mother Tracy. “The length of time and the setbacks he’s had along the way are a credit to him and what he’s put in,” the Wales captain, Alun Wyn Jones, said of Anscombe.

“Gareth would probably say himself he’s been through some dark periods. He’s still got the fight and desire and, if anything, it’s probably more so than before because he’s had that time away from the game.

“The characteristics which you see in a player who has been through so much can spawn a lot of determination from those around him.”

Anscombe has been picked to start at fly-half ahead of Rhys Priestland with Dan Biggar and Callum Sheedy unavailable to face New Zealand.

“Gareth is fully fit and has done everything with us. There is no need for protection regarding his knee and he’s good to go from a physical aspect,” said the Wales attack coach, Stephen Jones.

Anscombe’s playmaking abilities make him the perfect fit for the attacking style of Pivac wants to play, but the odds are stacked against Wales this weekend at a sold-out Principality Stadium. It will take a miracle if they are to seal what would be a first Welsh win over the All Blacks since 1953.

Pivac could be without up to 19 players for the match. His seven English-based stars, including Biggar, are unavailable because the New Zealand game falls outside World Rugby’s Test window.

Eight more key men are injured and centre Uilisi Halaholo was on Tuesday ruled out and forced into isolation for 10 days after testing positive for Covid-19.

Liam Williams, Ellis Jenkins and Elliot Dee are big doubts too while Wales are monitoring Halaholo’s close contacts to ensure a coronavirus outbreak doesn’t hit.

Wales said: “All close contacts that have been identified are being managed appropriately in line with government guidelines and we’ve enhanced testing for them.”

Contributor

Alex Bywater

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Gareth Anscombe insists Wales were not denied victory by TMO ruling
Gareth Anscombe believed he scored a try against England but said: ‘We had chances to fix it’

Paul Rees at Twickenham

11, Feb, 2018 @10:00 PM

Article image
Wales’ Gareth Anscombe defiant as Johnny Sexton talks up Ireland hopes
Gareth Anscombe said Wales were desperate for Six Nations Grand Slam success, while Ireland’s Johnny Sexton pointed out: ‘We’ve stopped winning runs before’

Paul Rees

12, Mar, 2019 @10:00 PM

Article image
Gareth Anscombe: ‘Wales are now genuine heavyweights. Warren’s one of the best’
The Cardiff Blues fly-half, who faces Saracens in the Champions Cup on Saturday, talks to Robert Kitson about Wales’ potentially defining 2019 and the social media abuse that rocked him after his 2014 move from New Zealand

Robert Kitson

14, Dec, 2018 @1:14 PM

Article image
Gareth Anscombe selection gives Wales attacking twist against Australia
Defences have come to know what to expect from Wales but Warren Gatland has introduced an element of doubt into Rugby World Cup Pool A decider

Paul Rees

09, Oct, 2015 @9:00 PM

Article image
Gareth Anscombe selection highlights Wales’s adapted Warrenball strategy
Warren Gatland’s fly-half decision suggests Wales will vary their attack plan in the Six Nations duel with England

Paul Rees

22, Feb, 2019 @10:00 PM

Article image
Dan Lydiate returns after five years as Wales and Ireland opt for experience
Wales have faced heavy criticism from pundits before their Six Nations encounter with Ireland in Cardiff

Paul Rees

05, Feb, 2021 @5:50 PM

Article image
Jonathan Davies’s return to fitness boosts Wales’ World Cup hopes
Wales were confident the centres Jonathan Davies and Hadleigh Parkes will be fit for Sunday’s World Cup semi-final against South Africa

Andy Bull in Tokyo

23, Oct, 2019 @9:00 PM

Article image
Liam Williams’s return from injury gives Saracens and Wales a lift
Liam Williams is in line to make his return from injury in Saracens’ pivotal Champions Cup tie against Ospreys

Gerard Meagher

10, Jan, 2018 @9:59 PM

Article image
George North to leave Northampton and return home to Wales
George North will leave Northampton to return to Wales at the end of the season but yet to be decided is the region for which he will play

Paul Rees

22, Nov, 2017 @5:26 PM

Article image
Wales flanker Thomas Young to make Six Nations debut against Italy
Thomas Young has earned his Six Nations reward for impressing in training and will start against Italy

Paul Rees

05, Feb, 2019 @6:47 PM