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Injury fears confirmed for Kurtley Beale as door opens in Wallabies midfield

By AAP
Kurtley Beale at Wallabies training. Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

The Wallabies have suffered a double blow with rookie centre David Feliuai pulling out of their camp and veteran Kurtley Beale undergoing surgery after rupturing an Achilles tendon.

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Ahead of their opening Test match against Wales on Saturday in Sydney, NSW Waratahs centre Joey Walton has been called into the squad.

Utility back Beale suffered the injury playing club rugby in Sydney, which likely spells the end of the 35-year-old’s international career after 95 Tests.

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He went for scans on Monday which confirmed his worst fears.

Feliuai, who made a name for himself with Melbourne Rebels this Super Rugby Pacific season, withdrew for personal reasons.

Coach Joe Schmidt will on Thursday name his first Test team since taking over from World Cup failure Eddie Jones.

The second Wales match is at Melbourne’s AAMI Park on July 13, followed by a one-off Test against Georgia in Sydney on July 20.

Australia A representative Walton won’t feature at Allianz Stadium this week but Schmidt’s first-choice centre pairing is far from clear.

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There are reports Brumbies ace Len Ikitau has a hamstring injury.

The outside centre was at a Wallabies fan day in Sydney on Sunday, with his teammate Andrew Kellaway unaware of any injury news.

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The two leading outside-centre options against Wales are Queensland’s Josh Flook and Filipo Daugunu, who has rejoined the Reds from the Melbourne Rebels.

Flook already has an established Reds partnership with inside centre Hunter Paisami which could give him the edge given the team’s short preparation for the first Test of the year.

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Making a name for himself as a winger, Daugunu spent time at No.13 with the Rebels, earning himself the club’s Players’ Player award for the 2024 season.

Kellaway can also play outside centre but is more likely to feature on the wing or at fullback.

Playing his seventh and last Test at the end of 2021 Daugunu said he was happy to line up anywhere in the backline.

“I’ve been away for two years so I tried really hard to be back again and I’m happy to be here,” the 29-year-old said.

“It was a good chance for me when I went to Melbourne to play more at 13 so I can try to crack the Wallabies again.”

He said he’d improved his fitness and his game knowledge since his last opportunity.

“I just tried to understand more about rugby and improve myself week after week so I’m happy to be here.

“It’s tough to play international (rugby) and to play you need to be fit and understand the whole game plan and your role in the team.”

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finn 4 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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