CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Wales has retained No. 8 Taulupe Faletau but had to release injured fellow forwards Jake Ball and Justin Tipuric for the rugby test against South Africa this weekend.
Faletau and prop Scott Andrews are the only English-based players available. Both are at Bath club, which is risking a fine and/or a points deduction from Premiership Rugby for letting Faletau play.
Premiership Rugby doesn't allow for the release of non-England players outside the autumn international window. It fined Northampton 60,000 pounds in 2013 for letting wing George North play for Wales against Australia.
Like North, Faletau insisted on a release clause in his Bath contract for all of Wales' tests.
Andrews is on loan at Bath from the Cardiff Blues.
Bath has not released flyhalf Rhys Priestland, who was a replacement against New Zealand last Saturday, or Springboks loose forward Francois Louw, who started all three of their tests on their European tour this month.
Beside Priestland, the other English-based players have returned to their clubs: Tomas Francis (Exeter), Jamie Roberts (Harlequins), and Owen Williams (Gloucester).
Ball dislocated a shoulder and Tipuric hurt a quad in the New Zealand game, and both have left the Wales camp.
Wales assistant coach Neil Jenkins hoped scrumhalf Rhys Webb, who was concussed in the first 10 minutes against New Zealand, will be available, and said center Scott Williams, who injured his ankle, trained on Tuesday.
But it looks as though Wales will have to replace at least two starting forwards, two starting backs, and two reserves from the side which lost to the All Blacks 33-18 on Saturday.
"We're a little bit down (on players) but it's a chance for other guys," Jenkins said. "We've got plenty of players, not as many as we had at the start. We've been together for four weeks, most of the stuff we want is in place."
Wales could yet debut New Zealand-born utility back Hadleigh Parkes, who qualifies on residency on Saturday. Parkes followed his former Auckland coach Wayne Pivac to Scarlets in 2014. Parkes has Super Rugby experience with the Blues, Southern Kings, and Hurricanes.
"He carries well, he's defensively very good," Jenkins said. "The Scarlets have kept ball in hand well and put people through holes; he's got that subtlety to his game. The way we're trying to play, he's a big bonus for us."
Center Owen Watkin, capped twice this month, and flyhalf Rhys Patchell, who last played for Wales 18 months ago, are also in the mix.
Meanwhile, the Springboks, beside Louw, also released No. 8 Duane Vermuelen back to Toulon and lock Franco Mostert to his Japanese club, though flyhalf Elton Jantjies received permission from his Japanese club to stay.
Prop Tendai Mtawarira hurt his groin in the 35-6 win over Italy last weekend, and uncapped Sharks prop Thomas du Toit was brought in as cover.
The teams will be named on Thursday.