Emerging Reds and Wallabies star Jordan Petaia has been ruled out for the rest of the Super Rugby season due to a shoulder injury.
Petaia was a late withdrawal from Queensland’s side for last week’s loss to the Jaguares having dislocated his shoulder in training, and it has now been confirmed the injury will require surgery and a 20-week layoff.
That timeframe puts Petaia in serious doubt for both Australia’s July Tests and the Rugby Championship immediately afterwards.
It is the second year in a row the 19-year-old has had his Super Rugby season ended so early, having sustained a lisfranc injury in Round 2, 2019. Petaia didn’t play top-level rugby again until making his Wallabies debut at the World Cup later that year.
The youngster was mightily impressive in the tournament, in which he started three games: two on the wing against Uruguay and Georgia, before being thrust into the centres for Australia’s quarter-final defeat to eventual runners-up England.
The news further compounds a luckless start to the Reds’ 2020 campaign. While Brad Thorn’s side have played promisingly in all three games, they currently sit third last on the ladder without a win to their name, in front of only the Bulls and Waratahs courtesy of two bonus points.
In a small silver lining, Hunter Paisami, who replaced Petaia in the Reds lineup following his shoulder injury, put in an excellent performance against the Jaguares, making a number of surging runs, and the 21-year-old is now set for an extended run in Queensland’s starting side.
With Petaia likely out of at least the July Tests against Ireland and Fiji, new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie will have to unveil a new-look centre pairing, with former vice-captain and no.12 Samu Kerevi now playing in Japan.
Petaia’s Reds teammate James O’Connor wore the no.13 jersey at the World Cup prior to the quarter-final, but he’s been used as more of a primary playmaker by Thorn this season, starting Round 1 at inside centre before being shifted to flyhalf for the last two games.
Fellow Wallaby Reece Hodge is another possibility, having spent the first two rounds for the Rebels at 13 before moving to the wing for the side’s first win of the year against the Waratahs, however it’s Brumby Tevita Kuridrani who now seems by far the most likely option to start at outside centre for Rennie’s first Test in charge.