Leigh Halfpenny: Warren Gatland did not get it wrong, says Jones

Leigh Halfpenny is carried off the field after injuring his knee
Leigh Halfpenny is the third Wales player to pass 500 points for his country
Rugby World Cup
Hosts: England and Wales Dates: 18 September-31 October
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and sports extra, BBC Radio Wales and in Welsh on BBC Radio Cymru, plus live text commentary on every match on the BBC Sport website.

Wales coach Warren Gatland was right to select Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb for Wales' warm-up match against Italy, says former scrum-half Robert Jones.

Full-back Halfpenny, 26, has been ruled out of the World Cup after rupturing knee ligaments and scrum-half Webb is out after damaging an ankle.

Former Wales wings Shane Williams and JJ Williams said Halfpenny should not have been picked, but Jones disagrees.

"I don't think Warren Gatland has got it wrong," he said.

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"He's meticulous in terms of his planning, it's just unfortunate that injuries happen and we've had two pretty big ones.

"Mentally and physically you have to prepare for the challenge.

"That means really putting your body on the line on a regular basis against some of the best sides in the world.

"England and Ireland did it at the weekend, Scotland and France have done it, it's just unfortunate that Wales have suffered two crucial injuries as a result of playing this game.

"These players would have been up for it, would have wanted it, it's just unfortunate it has backfired."

Rhys Webb
Rhys Webb (right) was injured during Wales' 23-19 win over Italy

The Welsh Rugby Union confirmed on Tuesday morning that Webb has a "significant" foot injury and would miss the tournament, while Halfpenny ruptured anterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee and faces a long lay-off.

Racing 92 scrum-half Mike Phillips has been called-up in place of Webb while Ospreys wing Eli Walker is also drafted back in to the squad to take Halfpenny's spot.

The 'whole of Wales is gutted'

Former Wales centre Tom Shanklin says the loss of Halfpenny is a "massive, massive" blow for Wales.

The Toulon full-back has scored 508 points in 62 appearances for his country and was voted man of the series when the British and Irish Lions beat Australia by two Tests to one in 2013.

Scarlets full-back Liam Williams is in the World Cup party, but has not played since having surgery on an injured foot in June.

Fly-half Dan Biggar, who has kicked 148 points for Wales, is set to take over goal-kicking duties but Shanklin says Halfpenny's deterrent value as a long-range place-kicker will be difficult to replace.

Wales' World Cup pool games
Sunday, 20 Sept, 14:30 BST: Wales v Uruguay, Millennium Stadium
Saturday, 26 Sept, 20:00 BST: England v Wales, Twickenham Stadium
Thursday, 1 Oct, 16:45 BST: Wales v Fiji, Millennium Stadium
Saturday, 10 Oct, 16:45 BST: Wales v Australia, Twickenham Stadium

"The opposition have to be squeaky clean when he is playing, said Shanklin.

"Poor, poor guy and what a loss for Wales because he is a points machine and Wales rely so heavily on him to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

"I'm hoping Liam Williams is fully fit, and we have Hallam Amos as well who's looked good.

"But I think the whole of Wales is gutted for the guy, because he's an idol, he's an icon, he scores all those points and it's just a massive, massive blow for Wales."

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