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Waratahs hit by shock training injury as Wallaby centre Foketi hospitalised

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

Wallabies centre Lalakai Foketi has been taken to hospital in an ambulance after suffering a neck injury at NSW Waratahs training.

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Foketi was treated for more than half an hour by medics after an apparently innocuous incident during training at the Waratahs’ Daceyville base in Sydney on Thursday.

Coach Darren Coleman said the 29-year-old had movement in his fingers and the star’s wife would meet Foketi at hospital.

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The injury comes just two days before the Tahs’ season-opening Super Rugby clash against the Queensland Reds at Suncorp Stadium.

Foketi, a member of Australia’s World Cup squad last year and the scorer of the Wallabies’ try of the season in 2022, had been named to start at inside centre in a star-studded midfield with Izaia Perese.

Coleman will almost certainly need to find a replacement and may consider promoting teenage sensation Max Jorgensen from the bench into the starting XV.

Jorgensen only made his comeback from a fractured fibula in a trial last Saturday against a combined Manly and Warringah outfit.

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The 19-year-old survived 40 minutes unscathed after being forced home early from the World Cup in France without featuring in any of Australia’s games.

Should Coleman go that way, Jorgensen would likely start at fullback and Joey Walton be shifted to the centres.

Otherwise Mosese Tupulotu, the brother of Scotland midfielder Sione, may come into the centres to team with Perese, allowing Jorgensen to be eased back into the fold as the Waratahs had hoped.

The Reds beat the Waratahs handsomely in Roma two weeks ago, before Coleman’s side also lost comprehensively to the Melbourne Rebels in a second trial.

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But prop Angus Bell insists there’s no need for panic.

“We came into that week not wanting to show very much. You don’t want to show your hand before you play them and certain things that we think will work against the Reds in a trial,” Bell said on Thursday.

“It’s not down to that. We weren’t good enough in some aspects and gave them too much time.

“(But) we’ve gone the past two years winning all our trials and we’ve come into the season and got opposite results. Trial form doesn’t mean much, it’s about us getting back into our footy.

“We weren’t happy with the results, but we’re excited that we get to prove everyone else wrong this weekend when we beat the Reds at Suncorp.”

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