AUSTRALIA has suffered a major blow to their World Cup plans with their two biggest ballcarriers Will Skelton and Wycliff Palu ruled out of the entire tournament with injuries.
Hooker James Hanson will replace backrower Palu, while Sam Carter takes the place of lock Skelton.
Just five days before Australia plays England in a defining Pool A match, the Wallabies are reeling from the news they’ll be without two of their key gain-line runners.
The injury to Palu has effectively ended his 57-Test international career. The 33-year-old will play in Japan’s club competition from next year and will not qualify for the Wallabies under the ARU’s 60-Test minimum rule.
Australia’s Will Skelton was injured during the Rugby World Cup Pool A match between Australia and Uruguay at Villa Park. Source: AP
Palu had indicated that the World Cup would be his last foray on the international scene anyway.
Instead of bringing in another backrower, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has opted to select Hanson, after being criticised for not selecting a third hooker in his original 31-man squad.
Hanson’s addition means there will be cover if skipper Stephen Moore or back-up hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau are injured in coming games, which are all effectively knockout clashes given the ramifications of their pool matches against England and Wales.
It’s understood Hanson will fly out to London from Australia today.
Carter has been playing as a medical joker in France, which allowed him to be close should there be an injury to one of the second-rowers.
The injury will effectively end Wycliff Palu’s career with the Wallabies. Source: Getty Images
Skelton left the field against Uruguay clutching his arm, and fears were realised after medical tests revealed he would be unfit for the remainder of the World Cup.
Carter will make the quick dash from France to England and be ready in time for Sunday morning’s enormous match against the hosts at Twickenham.
Australia can virtually end England’s World Cup hopes by defeating them this weekend, after Wales beat the Poms in a thriller last Sunday.
Palu had lost his starting No. 8 place to David Pocock and would have been fighting for a place on the bench, while Skelton has been rotated from starting position to the bench but has been a constant in the Wallabies’ match-day 23-man squads this year.