The Wales winger Shane Williams faces a battle to be available for the Six Nations showdown against England next Saturday. The Ospreys player suffered an ankle injury during Wales' tournament-opening victory over Scotland at Murrayfield on Sunday. It is the latest fitness concern for the coach Warren Gatland, who saw the winger's British Lions teammates Gavin Henson and Ryan Jones miss the Edinburgh game due to calf muscle strains.
Williams scored his 45th Test try in the 26-13 success against a disappointing Scottish side as Wales launched their title defence with only their third win in Edinburgh since 1985. But England, who won their opening game against Italy, could now be spared the prospect of facing Williams in a game in which they will start as underdogs. "I went over on my ankle tackling Jason White," Williams said. "I've iced it up and compressed it, and I hope I can come back and be available for selection.
"Hopefully, it is not as bad as I first thought. I am more determined than ever to play at the weekend. "I would be really gutted if I missed the game, and I will be working as hard as I possibly can to be fit. "At home against England, there is no bigger game, really. We will have to wait and see. I won't be playing unless I am 100 per cent fit. I will do whatever it takes to get back on the field."
Mark Jones, on the verge of full fitness following recent appendix surgery, can expect a recall if Williams is ruled out. Gatland is set to delay his team announcement by 24 hours until Thursday, giving Williams, Henson and Jones maximum recovery time to prove their fitness and make themselves available. Williams was hurt during the closing stages of a game Wales led 26-6 with 20 minutes left after his try followed earlier scores by centre Tom Shanklin, lock Alun-Wyn Jones and wing Leigh Halfpenny on his Six Nations debut.
Scotland belatedly rallied with a score from impressive substitute Max Evans, yet the absence of injured forwards Euan Murray and Nathan Hines took an inevitable toll as Wales dominated up-front. "I know with Hines and Murray out, they were huge losses to the Scottish tight five, but it was one aspect of our game that was very, very pleasing," said Gatland. "We're pretty happy with a lot of things in attack, although there a few things to work on in defence.
"But for us to start the campaign off like that and get a win away from home, we're very, very pleased." Gatland was delighted with the way his side coped after losing Henson on Friday and Jones on Saturday, important players whose absences could have rocked Wales to the core. He added "I think it's the maturity that is developing in the side. We get a couple of setbacks or disappointments and you just handle it.
"There is a long way to go in this tournament, and what we had to remind ourselves of during the week was that all teams started on zero points before Saturday. "If we do play to our potential, we've got a good chance of retaining this title." * PA Sport