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Players Available For South Africa Game?

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    Posted: 25 October 2004 at 12:14pm
from ic wales

WALES' plans for the South Africa Test on November 6 have been thrown into disarray after a dreadful weekend for Welsh rugby.

On a weekend when Welsh representation failed to register a victory in a Heineken Cup opening round for the first time, Wales coach Mike Ruddock was counting the cost alongside his regional counterparts.

Ruddock will be definitely without Jonathan Thomas (pictured below) for the first autumn Test after the versatile forward was sent off in the Ospreys' 38-17 defeat to Castres in France.

Thomas, who will also miss the Ospreys' European tie with Munster on Sunday, had been pencilled in for the blindside role against the Springboks. He will be eligible for the visit of Romania to Cardiff on November 12.

But Ruddock also has other worries with Gareth Cooper and Iestyn Thomas facing fitness checks and doubts remaining over the eligibility of Wales' France-based trio.

Livewire scrum-half Cooper suffered an injury to his left knee during the Dragons' shock 10-6 defeat against Newcastle Falcons.

He was in some distress as he was helped off and admitted, "It was a bit of a scare when I first did it.

Loosehead prop Thomas picked up a neck injury as the Scarlets lost 9-6 to Toulouse on Friday.

On the same evening Wales captain Gareth Thomas revealed he didn't know whether Toulouse planned to carry out their threat to try and prevent him leading Ruddock's team out against the Springboks.

Toulouse claim the fixture's late addition on the international calendar means it is exempt from rules which ensure the release of players.

Sources in France have again confirmed to the Western Mail that Clermont Auvergne and Narbonne will also refuse to release Stephen Jones and Gareth Llewellyn because of vital French championship matches that weekend.

Edited by jarr
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