A fractured cheekbone looks set to keep Queensland Reds and Wallabies centre Hunter Paisami out of next Saturday’s Super Rugby AU final.
The in-form midfielder’s injury came after heavy contact with a Western Force defender in the first half of their loss in Perth on the weekend.
The club revealed the injury on Thursday, saying Paisami could miss up to four weeks but he does not require surgery.
One of the competition’s form players, Paisami’s absence would be a blow for the side whose only loss this season came in their final regular season game with a grand-final berth already secured.
Debate will rage over who should replace Paisami in the Reds midfield.
Experienced campaigner Hamish Stewart has been a safe pair of hands at No 12 and will undoubtedly retain his position for the grand final in a week’s time while there are a number of players who could slot in at outside centre in Paisami’s absence.
Rookie centre Josh Flook has performed well in his appearances to date, featuring prominently against the Brumbies, and slotted in at centre once Paisami left the field against the Force.
Jordan Petaia was expected to wear No 13 for much of the season and has plenty of experience in the position but has seemingly found a home for himself on the right wing.
The Reds will host the final at Suncorp Stadium next Saturday night against the winner of Saturday’s qualifying final between the Brumbies and Western Force.
– with Murray Wenzel
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