Deans: It was carnage at Loftus
Robbie Deans (Getty Images)
Pretoria - Australia face a race against time to bring in fresh players for the final Rugby Championship match in Argentina next week after five Wallabies were forced off the pitch by injury in Saturday's 31-8 defeat at the hands of South Africa.
Robbie Deans's side were reduced to 14 men for the last eight minutes of the contest when, having used up all of their replacements, Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota Nau came off the Loftus Versfeld pitch with a shoulder injury.
Centre Adam Ashley-Cooper was knocked out cold making a try-saving tackle on Zane Kirchner in Pretoria and will definitely miss the match against the Pumas in Rosario.
Number eight Radike Samo (shoulder), winger Digby Ioane (knee), fullback Berrick Barnes (chest) also came off, leaving an unorthodox Wallabies team featuring scrumhalf Nick Phipps playing on the wing.
"I have never seen anything like that in terms of carnage," Deans told reporters.
"We were down to 13 men at one point and not being able to make that last replacement put us under the pump.
"It could have blow out even more. We were severely compromised in terms of the line-up, but they hung on."
The under-fire Deans already had a long injury list and anticipated problems with getting back-ups to Argentina in time for next Saturday's test.
"We are going to have to bring some players across from Australia which is going to be challenging because we've already delved so deep into our resources that there will be a couple of players who won't yet have visas organised," he added.
"Organising a visa for Argentina is not straightforward so it is possible that some of the blokes won't get there in time for training."
The loss to the Springboks was the third of the Rugby Championship for the Wallabies, the last champions of the Tri-Nations which the competition replaced.
Another loss next week to Argentina, who led the Wallabies by 13 points with 20 minutes remaining in their first meeting two weeks ago before Australia battled back to win, would pile even more pressure on Deans.
The New Zealander's plight has not been helped by injured flyhalf Quade Cooper criticising his tactics and saying he would not play for Australia again until there were changes to what he called a "toxic environment".