Warren Gatland will not have to rebuild his entire backrow.
With Dan Lydiate and Justin Tipuric already ruled out of Wales’ tour of New Zealand, Warren Gatland has finally received some good news on the injury front, after The Guardian this afternoon reported that Sam Warburton is expected to be declared fit for the first test on 11 June.
The news will come as a relief to Wales, after they were outclassed by England in Twickenham last weekend. It was during that game Lydiate suffered the shoulder injury which will keep him out of action for three months.
As a result, Gatland was forced to call up the uncapped Cardiff Blues flanker, Ellis Jenkins. Had Warburton not been able to line out for Wales, the Welsh coach would have been forced to select an inexperienced backrow featuring Taulupe Faletau, Ross Moriarty and possibly the Osprey’s James King.
Given that the All Blacks can call on the services of Kieran Read, Sam Cane and Jerome Kaino, without Warburton, Wales would have faced an insurmountable mountain in New Zealand.
While the task remains extremely difficult, at least with Warburton in the starting line up, Wales will be competitive at the breakdown.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena