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Tuesday, 17 October, 2000, 06:42 GMT 07:42 UK
Hammond hammer blow for Wales
Wales will be without Karle Hammond for the Rugby League World Cup, after the loose forward was forced to pull out through injury.
The 26-year-old former St Helens player was unable to fly with the rest of the Welsh squad to their warm weather training camp in South Africa.
Hammond, who recently moved from London Broncos to Widnes, is suffering the repercusions of a serious thumb injury.
It is the third withdrawal from coach Clive Griffiths' 24-man squad, after he was forced to replace centre Damian Gibson and prop Neil Cowie.
Wales, who are preparing to meet South Africa in the first international between the two nations in Pretoria on Thursday, will be able to call up a replacement.
But the injury comes as personal to blow to Hammond.
"I suffered a double fracture of the thumb at the end of last season and I have had some problems with the injury," he explained.
"There's still not a great deal of movement and I'm to have a further scan to see what kind of problem remains.
"It has been a major disappointment for me but I was forced to make a decision. If I suffered a recurrence of the injury, it could put me out of next season."
Welsh team manager Mike Nicholas said: ""It is very disappointing to lose another quality player like Karle.
"We'd half suspected that there could be a problem with him so it was not that much of a surprise when he pulled out.
"It's not yet certain whether we shall seek a replacement. Clive and I just want to keep all our options at the moment.
"We've spoken about the situation with the rest of the players and agreed there's no point in letting it effect our determination to do well in the Lincoln Financial Group Rugby League World Cup.
"Of course it's disappointing to lose good players but now we're calling upon the legendary Welsh rugby spirit to pull us through this difficult time.
"We are still determined to do well in the competition and believe that we can still be very competitive."
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