The Wallabies are searching for a new centres pairing after their Bledisloe Cup hopes took another major blow with Matt Giteau and Rob Horne ruled out for the remainder of the Rugby Championship.
And Michael Cheika is preparing to be without another playmaker in Matt Toomua for the second Test in Wellington after he was taken from the field in the first half of his side’s biggest-ever home defeat – a 42-8 loss to the All Blacks – due to a head knock.
For Giteau, 33, his Wallabies future is hanging by a thread after suffering a syndesmosis injury in the opening exchanges on Saturday evening.
It is an even tougher pill to swallow for the 103-Test veteran after making the trek back from club duties in Toulon knowing full well he faced the risk of being financially worse off.
“He’s done a pretty good job on his leg,” Cheika said. “He’s disappointed but he’s also very realistic. He’s a pro, he still knows he’s got to get himself right to get back to his club commitments later in the season so that’s what he will be doing.”
On a night where three centres were taken off for different injuries, Cheika did not use such bad luck as an excuse for his side’s uninspiring performance.
Horne received scans on Sunday for a shoulder dislocation and will more than likely require surgery.
For Toomua, he will be monitored throughout the week but has been rated little chance of lining up for the must-win game in Wellington.
“I would say he will struggle to be available for this week after he took a pretty heavy head knock,” Cheika said. “We’ll just go through the recovery protocols for the head knock and see how he stands.”
Cheika now has to sit down with the other coaches to best work out how to fill the void at No.12.
The obvious replacement would be Samu Kerevi, who started there in the first two Tests against England, however someone like a Quade Cooper or even Reece Hodge could do a job.
Although fullback Israel Folau slotted into second receiver at various points, Cheika said he was reluctant to move him into the midfield.
“I’ve always seen Israel in the fullback role and that’s been his main role and it’s probably somewhere I’d like to see him keep playing,” Cheika said.
Vice-captain Michael Hooper said the team were feeling for the injured trio, particularly Giteau who has worked so hard to stay within the Wallabies set-up over the last few years.
“It sucks for Matt and for the wider team,” Hooper said. “Hugely disappointing for himself. He’s such a vibrant character with him and Drew [Mitchell] and the other guys who come back. For him to go out so early in the game is really tough to take so it’ll be disappointing not having him at full fitness.”
Cheika disagreed that the Wallabies were in the midst of a post-World Cup hangover and yet again defended his decision to bring a number of older, experienced players back for the series.
“It’s four losses [in 2016] and that shows that we’re out of form and we need to get back in form quickly,” Cheika said. “We’re going to have a week where there’s going to be a lot of negativity around us and it’s going to be a chance to stick together as much as possible and build something out of adversity. We put ourselves there and now we’ve got to get out.
“It’s not like we’re in pension zone from the point of view of the average age of the squad.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.