CARDIFF – Leigh Halfpenny has returned to training with Wales ahead of Saturday’s Six Nations clash with England in Cardiff.
The Scarlets fullback has not played since suffering concussion in Wales’ win over Australia on November 10.
It would be a major surprise if the ace goal-kicker, who did not play for the Scarlets against Benetton in the PRO14 last weekend, was to make his return to rugby in an international that could decide the destiny of the Six Nations title, with both Wales and England having won their opening two matches.
But it would be less of a shock if flyhalf Dan Biggar featured at the Principality Stadium on Saturday.
Biggar went off with his knee heavily strapped during Northampton’s victory over Sale in the English Premiership last weekend, but has taken part in Wales’ training sessions this week.
“They are training with us, so hopefully they will be fit enough for selection,” said Wales assistant coach Robin McBryde.
“Leigh was released, but didn’t play last week. We just felt that he needed a little bit more contact, so that is what he is going to have. We will measure both of them as the week goes on.”
McBryde added: “With Leigh, it is an individual case, and those discussions would take place with the medical team, the coaches and Leigh himself.
“There is no way that we would put somebody in a position that he is not comfortable with. Those discussions will take place during the week.”
England will again be without second row Maro Itoje.
The Saracens lock suffered knee ligament damage in England’s opening win over Ireland, and missed the 44-8 rout of France at Twickenham.
“Maro is continuing his rehabilitation on a daily basis,” said England forwards coach Steve Borthwick. “He will not be available for Saturday’s game.
“He’s going well, just not quite well enough for this weekend. At the moment, he’s going through his running progressions, and that’s being developed on a daily basis.”
Former Chelsea and England football captain John Terry visited the England rugby team’s training base on Tuesday.
“To have the opportunity to speak to someone like him with his experience is excellent,” Borthwick said.
“It’s a different sport, yes, but you can still talk about the traits of successful teams,” added Borthwick, a former Red Rose captain.
“We’re trying to keep learning and keep developing to be a successful team. He talked about how the senior playing group led and drove the standards at training.”
Wales are on an 11-match unbeaten run, with just one more win required to break their all-time record set from 1907-1910.
“We’ve had the results, but maybe not the performances, so we have got a bit of work ahead of us,” said McBryde. “They (England) have started really strongly (against Ireland and France), so we have got to be able to weather the storm.
“It is a big test, and we are going to have to be at our best.”AFP