Western Force winger Nick Cummins and lock Sam Wykes have been ruled out of Saturday night’s clash with the Queensland Reds, while skipper Matt Hodgson is also in danger of missing the Super Rugby match.
Cummins has been battling inflammation in his knee for some weeks now, while Wykes suffered a minor ankle sprain during the team’s 36-26 loss to the Bulls a fortnight ago.
Both have already been ruled out against the Reds, while Hodgson faces a race against time to recover from a hamstring injury.
Complicating matters for Hodgson is the impending birth of his first child, who is expected any day from now.
Hodgson didn’t fly with the rest of the squad to Brisbane on Wednesday, but is still a slight chance of making the trek east later in the week.
“If we hold him out, it won’t be because he couldn’t play, but more the fact we would be taking a risk if we did play him,” coach Michael Foley said.
“We don’t want to do that. He’s very important to us for the rest of the season.
“We’re also pleased with how Chris Alcock played against the Bulls, so we’re fortunate it’s one position where we do have a lot of depth.”
Patrick Dellit is in line to replace Cummins on the wing, while the Force are spoilt for choice in the back row, with the likes of Richard Brown, Alcock, Ben McCalman and Angus Cottrell among the options.
The Reds welcome back Wallabies scrumhalf Will Genia from a long-term knee injury, but they were forced to make a double switch on the wing after suspending Digby Ioane and ruling out Dom Shipperley (back).
Those positions are likely to be filled by Luke Morahan and Chris Feauai-Sautia as the Reds attempt to notch their fourth straight win.
Force five-eighth Sias Ebersohn was a revelation against the Bulls, returning a 16-point haul in his run-on debut for the club.
But Foley said the Force needed more than just a good kicking game to get the win against Queensland.
“Sias Ebersohn is a very impressive young 10. In South Africa for a short time, he was seen as the next best thing,” Foley said.
“Often, young players get enormous pressure put on them, which is unfair.
“Sias Ebersohn is not the saviour for the Force. It’s going to be a whole team performance that gets us results.”