Wednesday 22 November 2017

Wallabies blow as duo ruled out of Ireland clash


Nigel Whittaker in Sydney

INJURIES to key backs Digby Ioane and Will Genia have added to the frustration felt by Wallabies coach Robbie Deans in the aftermath of his team's defeat by England.

Ioane will miss the entire Tri-Nations campaign, with Deans confirming yesterday that the blockbusting back would require a shoulder reconstruction that will sideline him for about four months.

Genia, who had only just returned from another injury, is touch and go for the start of Australia's campaign against South Africa in Brisbane on July 24. X-rays were expected to confirm a broken hand, which would put him out for four to six weeks.

Deans said he would look at the possibility of calling another half-back into the squad, with Barbarians representative Josh Valentine among those likely to be considered.

Adam Ashley-Cooper, who replaced Ioane on Saturday night, is expected to start against Ireland in Brisbane next Saturday, with Peter Hynes or Lachie Turner among the candidates for the reserve outside-back position.


Deans joked he hadn't been brave enough to watch a video of Saturday night's defeat but said he was frustrated by the Wallabies' performance.

The coach was clearly disappointed by Australia's effort in a number of areas including their restarts and kick-chase game at ANZ Stadium.

"We made some progress in the scrum; we've still got a way to go, but some of the other elements of the game dropped off,'' Deans said.

"There was probably a degree of comfort possibly magnified by the ease at which we scored when we had good set-piece possession and sometimes that can be counter-productive.

"Blokes then sit there and wait for it to happen, but it doesn't happen at Test level.''

Skipper and flanker Rocky Elsom attributed Australia's lacklustre display to a combination of attitude and technical deficiencies.

"We went away from the game that we wanted to play; it turned a lot slower than we would have liked and we weren't able to have the impact in the contest we wanted,'' Elsom said.

The former Leinster star anticipated that Ireland would bring a mind-set similar to England -- keen and desperate for a win after losses to the All Blacks and New Zealand Maori.

With Genia sidelined, Luke Burgess will reclaim the scrum-half spot he lost despite producing probably his finest international performance in the first Test win against England in Perth.

A diplomatic Burgess said he was neither surprised nor disappointed to have been dropped. "No, I'm happy to be part of the group. I want the Wallabies to win,'' he said.

Meanwhile, Jonny Wilkinson has leapt to the defence of Matt Giteau after the Aussie playmaker missed a regulation penalty late in Saturday's match.

Giteau scored all of his side's points, crossing for two converted tries and adding two early penalty goals.

But it is his failure to hit the target from 18 metres out and directly in front in the 71st minute that will long be remembered by Wallabies fans.

Wilkinson, who kicked what turned out to be the match-winning penalty in the 53rd minute -- just two minutes after coming on as a substitute -- empathised with Giteau.

"Everyone goes there at some point," he said. "I would class myself as being in a very, very good position to make comment and that comment is that there's nothing harder in the game than to stand up each week and take the shots."

Giteau revealed his disappointment at his miss, saying: "Well that's not my proudest moment but these things happen so you've just got to move forward."

Australia -- J O'Connor; D Mitchell, R Horne, M Giteau, D Ioane (A Ashley-Cooper 63); Q Cooper, W Genia; B Daley, S Faingaa (H Edmonds 72), S Ma'afu (J Slipper 53); D Mumm (M Chisholm 54), N Sharpe; R Elsom (capt), D Pocock, R Brown.

England -- B Foden; M Cueto, M Tindall (D Armitage 68), S Hape, C Ashton; T Flood (J Wilkinson 52), B Youngs (D Care 66); T Payne (D Cole 71), S Thompson (G Chuter 71), D Cole (D Wilson 5-12, 53-58); C Lawes (S Shaw 60), T Palmer; T Croft, L Moody (capt), N Easter.

REF -- R Poite (France).

Irish Independent

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