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Dave Rennie provides update on Wallabies' massive injury list

By Tom Vinicombe
Lalakai Foketi. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The Wallabies have already had to contend with a massive absentee list this year and it seems that things aren’t about to get any easier following Saturday night’s clash with the All Blacks.

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Heading into the fixture, the Wallabies were already missing a slew of top-line players, including prop Taniela Tupou, flankers Michael Hooper and Rob Leota, flyhalves Quade Cooper, Noah Lolesio and James O’Connor, and midfielders Samu Kerevi, Hunter Paisami and Izaia Perese – to name just a few.

Two players also had their nights prematurely cut short at Eden Park with midfielder Lalakai Foketi leaving the field after just minutes of action and senior flyhalf Bernard Foley suffering a head knock shortly before fulltime.

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With so many walking wounded, coach Dave Rennie was somewhat understandably asked following the 40-14 loss whether the Wallabies have a conditioning issue.

“I think we’ve got some of the best (trainers) in the world,” he responded.

“[It’s a] collision sport and if you look at the injuries we had tonight, that’s the issue. Lalakai was carrying a ball. Jed did a hip-pointer tonight where it was a collision. Bernard Foley got knocked out. So it’s not like we’re having a heap of soft-tissue injuries. A number of them are collision. People landing on someone, doing an ACL or patellar tendon or whatever.

“I’ve got total confidence in the quality of our [strength and conditioning coaches] and our medical stuff.”

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While Rennie wasn’t able to confirm the extent of Foketi’s injury, he did suggest that the 27-year-old likely wouldn’t be touring with the squad when they travel north to Europe at the end of October – as well as many of the Wallabies’ other walking wounded.

“I’ll leave it for someone who’s got a medical degree to explain it probably but it’s a shoulder injury and could require an operation,” Rennie said.

“Most of the guys who got out injured are long-term, they won’t be returning till next year – Kerevi and Cooper, Perese, Rob Leota, Foketi now, and probably a couple of others, Tom Banks. Tom Banks hopefully might be back in time.”

Further complicating things is the Wallabies’ new reliance on a smattering of players from Japan, with a number of men unavailable for the end-of-year tour due to their club commitments. Pleasingly for Australian supporters, however, 33-year-old flyhalf Foley is still set to travel north.

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“Bernard’s a chance,” said Rennie. “Tom’s technically still contracted here until the end of the year so if he’s fit, he’ll be available. Marika [Koroibete] will head back [to Japan]. Obviously, Rory [Arnold] has already gone back and Samu and Quade are both out injured.”

There’s also a chance that talismanic captain Michael Hooper could be back on deck, with the seasoned campaigner taking time out of the game during the Rugby Championship for mental health reasons.

“He’s a ‘wait and see’. We’ve been in constant communication with Hoops and we’ll let everyone know what the plan is over the next couple of weeks.”

It’s not just the newly injured players who are potentially set for some time on the sidelines, however.

Rennie was evidently not pleased with his team’s discipline following the thumping at Eden Park, despite it being a major focus in the week leading up to the Bledisloe Cup clash, and it appears that some players may pay the price for their indiscretions.

“If we’ve got individuals giving away lots of penalties, maybe it’s a selection issue,” he dryly noted.

The Wallabies will spend the next month recovering from their Rugby Championship campaign before taking on Scotland on 29 October.

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