Fears that Wallabies and NSW Waratahs star Kurtley Beale could be sidelined for up to six weeks have been allayed by an encouraging update on his elbow injury.
Beale has been ruled of Sunday’s Super Rugby derby with the Melbourne Rebels at Allianz Stadium but coach Daryl Gibson is hopeful the star back will return for the next game in a fortnight after initially fearing much worse.
It was thought Beale may have dislocated his elbow during a training mishap on Tuesday.
“It started off with a worst-case scenario of six weeks,” Gibson said on Friday.
“He hurt that elbow ligament, sort of subluxed the elbow joint.
“Obviously he scanned it right away and typically scans can paint a much worse picture than what it actually is.
“Since then the assessment is it’s actually not too bad. It could be just be just a flare up of an old injury.
“So it’s far more positive.”
The Waratahs have a bye next week before hosting the Brumbies in a huge conference clash in Sydney in round seven.
“He’s a definite chance for the Brumbies,” Gibson said.
With Beale out, the Tahs will feature a new centre pairing as David Horwitz partners Matt Carraro, who replaces the injured Rob Horne.
Gibson had planned to start Israel Folau at outside centre for the first time – with Beale at fullback – after Horne broke his arm in NSW’s tough win over the Queensland Reds last Sunday.
But Beale’s injury has scuppered those plans, with Gibson preferring to start Carraro rather than exciting young fullback Andrew Kellaway.
“Currently where we’re at, I wanted to go with that experience,” the coach said.
“Matt’s been a good performer for us, very consistent, so that was an easy one.
“Andrew Kellaway is an extremely promising young player and he’ll get his opportunities.”
In the forwards, veteran prop Benn Robinson comes in to shore up the Waratahs’ shaky scrum and will start in the front row alongside young hooker Hugh Roach and Angus Taavao.
Giant Wallaby lock Will Skelton gets a recall on the bench after being dropped to club rugby last week.
US international and former Western Force hooker James Hilterbrand could debut from the bench after being called from Sydney club rugby as a replacement hooker, with Tolu Latu and Tatafu Polota-Nau both injured.
NSW Waratahs: Israel Folau, Reece Robinson, Matt Carraro, David Horwitz, Zac Guildford, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, Jed Holloway, Michael Hooper (capt), Jack Dempsey, David Dennis, Dean Mumm, Angus Taavao, Hugh Roach, Benn Robinson. Res: James Hilterbrand, Paddy Ryan, Tom Robertson, Will Skelton, Sam Lousi, Wycliff Palu, Matt Lucas, Andrew Kellaway.