Wales receive fitness boost as Justin Tipuric returns to training

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Warren Gatland has received a timely boost ahead of Saturday’s encounter with New Zealand as flanker Justin Tipuric has returned to training this week.

The Ospreys openside has not featured since his region’s European Champions Cup encounter with Clermont in October, having pulled out of the game against Saracens in the warm-up with a thigh injury.

With Sam Warburton, Ellis Jenkins, Ollie Griffiths and James Davies all ruled out of the Autumn Internationals with injuries of their own, and Thomas Young not selected, Josh Navidi was selected in the number seven jersey against Australia.

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Wales 7s Olympic silver medallist Sam Cross then made his first start for Wales against Georgia last weekend, but was replaced at half-time by Navidi at the Principality Stadium.

51-cap Tipuric would likely come straight back into the side if fit, and look to compliment Wales’ shift in game plan from ‘Warrenball’ to an expansive pattern.

It’s not all good news for Gatland ahead of the All Blacks visit though, as there are concerns over the fitness of Liam Williams, while Samson Lee has not yet returned to training.

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Williams, the only member of the squad to start both tests so far this Autumn, was replaced during the Georgia game with an abdominal injury, with Warren Gatland telling the BBC that the full-back will be assessed “in the next 24-48 hours”.

Scarlets tighthead Lee hasn’t featured since his region’s Champions Cup game against Bath due to an Achilles injury, and is likely to sit out both the New Zealand and South Africa tests.

I would doubt that he would take part given how late it is in this campaign,” said Gatland.”He hasn’t done on his feet. He’s been doing a lot of boxing and cycling and not even cycling so much.

“We haven’t even had him on them pitch and the first time we put him in boots it was sore.”

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Featured image: Seth Whales