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Wrist injury threatens in-form Wallaby's World Cup bid

By AAP
Jordan Petaia of the Reds in action during the round three Super Rugby Pacific match between ACT Brumbies and Queensland Reds at GIO Stadium, on March 11, 2023, in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Jordan Petaia’s Rugby World Cup hopes have suffered a blow after he underwent surgery to repair a ligament injury in his wrist, ruling him out of the rest of the Super Rugby Pacific season.

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The Queensland Reds winger or fullback has been in career-best form this season to force his way into Eddie Jones’ Wallabies selection plans despite the great depth in those positions.

In nine games, sharing the fullback and wing duties with Jock Campbell, he’s scored a team-high seven tries and 10 line breaks.

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But, having finally enjoyed a clean run of health after constant injuries, Petaia has been struck down again.

The 23-year-old had surgery on Thursday, the Reds confirming to AAP he will not feature again in a season that includes four more regular-season games and possible finals.

The full recovery time is yet to be confirmed but at the very least it leaves Petaia battling to be fit for the Wallabies’ first Test since Jones’ return, in just eight weeks against South Africa in Pretoria.

The Wallabies then play Tests in Sydney (July 15) against Argentina and then New Zealand in Melbourne and Dunedin on July 29 and August 5 before leaving for the World Cup in France.

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“It’s a shame; he’s been playing really good footy and finally had a season where he’s strung together a lot of games without the niggling injuries,” Reds co-captain Liam Wright said.

“He’s one we’re going to miss and we wish him all the best for his recovery.”

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Petaia debuted at the 2019 World Cup, starring as a 19-year-old in a win over Uruguay.

He then made history by becoming the youngest player to start a World Cup game at inside centre, in the quarter-final loss to England.

Since then his run has been curbed by a variety of injuries, but he still slowly morphed into a potent fullback option for Brad Thorn’s Reds.

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Petaia was concussed in the opening minutes when handed a start in the Wallabies’ No.15 jersey last year in what appeared to be a short-lived experiment.

But he’s been one of the Reds’ best in a battling season, his powerful ball-running, booming boot, safe hands and crunching defence ensuring he demanded consideration again.

This latest setback opens the door further for rival fullbacks in the Brumbies’ Tom Wright, Melbourne’s Andrew Kellaway and Japan-based Tom Banks, who were all part of Jones’ extended squad last month.

There is also a long, strong list of players vying for wing berths.

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