Wallabies sweat on Beale, McCabe, Kepu
Prop Sekope Kepu has joined Australia’s worrying injury list following the torrid Rugby World Cup win over South Africa in Wellington.
Coach Robbie Deans on Monday revealed Kepu will join star fullback Kurtley Beale in getting a scan in Auckland after rolling his ankle late in the Wallabies’ gritty 11-9 quarter-final triumph over the defending champions in Wellington on Sunday.
“But first reports are that it’s not syndesmosis, which is a good starting point because that’s the sinister ankle injury,” Deans said.
The Wallabies are also sweating on a hamstring injury that is threatening Beale’s participation in Sunday night’s blockbuster semi-final against the All Blacks at Eden Park.
Beale hobbled off in the second half against South Africa.
The Wallabies are hopeful he’ll be passed fit but it’s undoubtedly a concern.
The 23-year-old, who once again looked Australia’s most dangerous attacker against the Boks, had to sit out the Wallabies’ final pool game against Russia with a hamstring strain.
And having him sidelined for the biggest match of the year would be a big blow.
“We don’t know the full extent, but Kurtley was tight,” said Deans.
“We’re confident he hasn’t torn his hamstring, but we’ll know more obviously in 48 hours.”
Deans said centre Pat McCabe had been “talking up his physical state in the shed” after hurting the same shoulder he subluxed earlier in the tournament, which also sidelined him from the Russia game.
“We don’t as yet how bad it is,” Deans said.
“Pat is suggesting it is only a stinger, as in temporary, but we’ll know more soon.
“Beyond that, I think we’re ok.”
Despite just about every statistic weighing heavily against them, the Wallabies tackled themselves to a standstill to produce one of the greatest defensive displays seen at a World Cup.
McCabe, whose midfield defence was mighty, said having to repel wave after wave of Boks’ attacks in the first half particularly, was “definitely the toughest 40 I’ve played”.
But he is desperate to tackle the All Blacks as the Wallabies try to bury their 25-year Eden Park hoodoo against their fierce trans-Tasman rivals.
“It’ll be right. It’s definitely not as bad as after the USA game, so fingers crossed,” McCabe said.
“I will have to look after it early in the week and then hopefully from there I’ll be right to go.”
Should Beale fail to recover in time, Deans would play either Adam Ashley-Cooper at the back and bring Anthony Faingaa into the centres, or use James O’Connor at No.15 and give Lachie Turner a shot on the wing.
If McCabe can’t backup, the Wallabies would surely start with Berrick Barnes at inside centre after the playmaking midfielder’s experience and impact off the bench again proved telling against South Africa.
Barnes’ shrewd and well-executed touchfinder with 10 minutes remaining led to Australia receiving the line-out penalty that allowed O’Connor to cooly boot the winning goal from 34m out.
“Berrick did well,” Deans said.
“There was one very good kick that alleviated a lot of pressure and produced a bit of pressure, which ultimately produced the opportunity that we needed.”© AAP 2013