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Waratahs star rushed to hospital following training mishap ahead of season opener

22nd February, 2024
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22nd February, 2024
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The Waratahs are sweating on the health of Lalakai Foketi ahead of Saturday’s Super Rugby season opener against the Queensland Reds, after the international midfielder was taken to hospital on Thursday with a neck injury.

The 29-year-old, who appeared at the World Cup last year, lay on a stretcher with his neck in a brace for more than 30 minutes, as paramedics treated the Wallabies centre at the scene.

He was taken to nearby Prince of Wales Hospital.

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Lalakai Foketi was rushed to hospital on Thursday after a training mishap. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

The nine-capped Wallaby was injured during the late stages of their Thursday morning training session.

It’s believed he injured himself at a ruck.

His teammates were left shocked and sweating about his health, as a large huddle was formed around the popular midfielder at the northern end of their training field at Daceyville.

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Waratahs coach Darren Coleman said he had movement in his fingers.

Who replaces Foketi remains to be seen, with Coleman having several options up his sleeve.

It’s likely Joey Walton, who was controversially selected at fullback, will return to his regular position in the midfield and Wallaby-in-waiting Max Jorgensen will be promoted to fullback.

The Waratahs had hoped to ease Jorgensen back into the firing line, having made his return last weekend in the side’s final pre-season hit out against a combined Warringah and Manly Shute Shield side.

Centre Mosese Tupulotu, the brother of Scotland midfielder Sione, is another alternative but would more likely be considered to come onto the bench.

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The Waratahs head into the match after some concerning pre-season form.

After being dusted by the Rebels in Melbourne, the Waratahs were blown away in the first half against the Reds in Roma less than a fortnight and were well-beaten 32-7.

But rampaging loose-head prop Angus Bell downplayed their form, saying they weren’t wanting to show much before their first-round hit out.

“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,” Bell said.

“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.

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

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While a game of footy has yet to be played, Waratahs back-rower Langi Gleeson said he understood the importance of making an early impression in front of new Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt.

Indeed, after catching the eye of Eddie Jones early last year, Gleeson knows the importance of going toe-for-toe alongside Reds No.8 Harry Wilson, who earlier this week said he was left shattered by having his World Cup spot taking by his opposite from NSW.

“Especially with a new coach, you want to impress,” he said.

“I can see Wilson’s side of not making it last year and trying to prove a point.

“I’m just here to do my job, shut him down and also put my best forward. Off the field we’re good mates, on the field not so much.”

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