Wales have delivered a positive early assessment of their captain Alun Wyn Jones after he went off injured during a 54-16 defeat against New Zealand in Cardiff.
Jones hurt the same shoulder that threatened to sideline him from this summer’s British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa before he made a startling recovery and started all three Tests.
He went off just 18 minutes into the contest, causing concern ahead of Wales’ remaining Autumn Nations Series appointments with South Africa, Fiji and Australia.
Captain Alun Wyn Jones and Ross Moriarty joined Wales’ extensive injury list on Saturday night
Wales head coach Wayne Pivac said: ‘Al, talking to him in the changing room, feels pretty good. We will get a scan as a precaution, but he is not in discomfort.
‘Obviously at the time, he couldn’t play on, but he is feeling a lot better, so that’s a plus.’
Asked if there were worries if 149 times-capped Jones had suffered a repeat of his Lions injury woes, Pivac added: ‘That wasn’t the discussion, and our medical team was in South Africa.
The Wales captain injured the same shoulder that threatened his Lions tour this summer
Jones came off after just 18 minutes causing concern ahead of the remaining Autumn series
‘I don’t think they will write Alun Wyn Jones off after what happened in South Africa. We will get it scanned, and then we will know a lot more, come Monday.’
The news does not look so promising for flanker Ross Moriarty, who went off just before half-time nursing a shoulder problem.
‘Ross’ is an AC joint,’ Pivac said. ‘He was in quite a bit of pain, so that doesn’t look too good.’
Flanker Ross Moriarty (bottom) also went off just before half-time nursing a shoulder problem
New Zealand equalled their record-winning margin against Wales in Cardiff, but it was not until the final quarter that they cut loose, scoring four tries after Wales hauled themselves back to just 12 points adrift.
It extended New Zealand’s relentless winning run against Wales, and they are unbeaten in the fixture since 1953.
Beauden Barrett’s try double, in his 100th Test, plus TJ Perenara, Will Jordan, Dalton Papalii, Sevu Reece and Anton Lienert-Brown touchdowns kept New Zealand in charge, while Jordie Barrett kicked 19 points.
Wales battled hard in front of a 70,000-plus Principality Stadium crowd, but they were ultimately outclassed and restricted to a second-half try for centre Johnny Williams, with Gareth Anscombe booting two penalties and Rhys Priestland adding a penalty and conversion.
Beauden Barrett marked his 100th test with two intercept tries for the All Blacks in Cardiff
TJ Perenara (centre), Will Jordan and Dalton Papalii also went over in a seven-try demolition
Pivac said: ‘Clearly, the last 20 minutes showed a difference in fitness levels. You are talking about a side that has been playing international rugby on the road for a couple of months.
‘We’ve got some work to do in that area, and we are going to work as hard as we can over the next seven days before the next opponent. We knew about the game for a long time, and we were excited with the squad we had.
‘At the end of the day, at 28-16 with 18 minutes to go I was very pleased with the performance to that point, but it is small margins, as I say, and sides punish you.
Wales were briefly lifted by a Johnny Williams (centre) try in the second-half on Saturday
‘The performance today will definitely have helped for us on the road to (World cup) 2023. I thought Taine Basham was probably our man-of-the-match, and his confidence will go through the roof. We are going to look at the positives, and we will build on that performance for next week.
‘Someone like Taine I thought stood out, he played very well. At 28-16 we are back in the game to a degree, and we gave away a silly penalty, and it was game over at that point.
‘We had two weeks to focus on this match, and we wanted to get as many learnings out of it as we could.’
Wales stars like Dan Biggar and Louis Rees-Zammit will be available to face the Springboks following their club commitments, but it remains to be seen how many of Pivac’s sizeable injured contingent recover in time.