The Wallabies are optimistic of fielding a full-strength line-up for their World Cup final against defending champions New Zealand, having escaped their bruising semi-final win over Argentina intact.
Influential pair David Pocock (calf) and Israel Folau (ankle) took injuries into the tense 29-15 victory at Twickenham, but coach Michael Cheika gave encouraging reports about the star duo, as well as injured prop Scott Sio, on Monday morning.
Folau played 60 minutes in the victory, but Cheika insisted that was always going to be the case for both he and Pocock, though the tireless back-rower completed a full 80 minute shift after injuries to other forwards – including workaholic No.6 Scott Fardy, who has a painful hip injury but is also ready to back up against New Zealand.
Cheika was also positive about the progress loosehead prop Sio was making from an elbow injury, while even winger Rob Horne – whose shoulder injury suffered in the pool stages nearly forced him on a flight home – is also very much in contention.
Sio’s injury is to his right elbow – which he used to bind with hooker and captain Stephen Moore – and the belief is that he will be able to play through pain, as long as there is enough strength left in the wing to properly bind the scrum.
Without that strength, Cheika would be better off sticking with the experience James Slipper in the No.1 jersey – despite the Queensland skipper having a difficult game and conceding three scrum penalties against a marauding Pumas pack on Sunday.
But the wily coach was cautiously optimistic of being able to call on the young buck Sio.
“We wanted to give him the opportunity to be right, even for last week, we were seeing how he went (and) if he got the movement back in his elbow,” Cheika said.
“He just had a lot of blood in there. There’s no ligament damage or anything.
“He needs it for binding and scrummaging, (and) it’s subsiding pretty quickly now so we’re feeling pretty good about his chances of playing.”
As he has been throughout the tournament, Giteau was a sore and sorry figure on Monday morning after another gruelling encounter – but is not believed to be in doubt to face the All Blacks in his second World Cup final.
He left Sunday’s win shortly after halftime after complaining of groin soreness, having previously battled a rib injury, but the 33-year-old has simply been putting the bumps and bruises down to old age.