The Wallabies’ Rugby World Cup campaign has suffered a setback with giant forwards Will Skelton and Wycliff Palu reportedly ruled out of the tournament.
The pair will leave the Australian camp after lock Skelton suffered a shoulder injury and No.8 Palu hamstring damage in Australia’s 11-try pool match win against Uruguay at the weekend.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has reportedly taken the opportunity to call up hooker James Hanson from Australia to replace Palu, giving the squad three specialist hookers after he somewhat controversially opted for just two – skipper Stephen Moore and Tatafu Polota-Nau – in the original 31-man squad.
Lock Sam Carter, who was a regular Wallabies starter before suffering a knee injury during the Super Rugby season, will come in for Skelton.
Carter is currently playing in France with Bordeaux-Begles on a four-game deal so he should be available ahead of the Wallabies’ crucial pool match with hosts England at Twickenham on Sunday morning (AEDT).
The loss of Skelton, the second heaviest player in the tournament, means the Wallabies will lose some grunt around the rucks and mauls as he would probably come from the bench to replace Kane Douglas in their first-choice team.
Palu, who appeared to fall down the No.8 pecking order behind David Pocock and Ben McCalman, would probably have struggled to get any more game time with only big matches against England and Wales ahead before the knockout stages.
Stalled on 57 Tests, the injury means the 33-year-old has likely played his last Test for Australia after signing to play in Japan next season.
Australia can virtually end England’s World Cup hopes by beating them this weekend, after Wales edged the home side in a thriller last Sunday.