Hanmer Springs - Wallabies' number eight Wycliff Palu is returning home from the World Cup after scans revealed a tournament-ending hamstring injury, team officials said on Tuesday.
Palu had scans of the hamstring injury he injured in Australia's 67-5 defeat of the United States in Wellington last Friday.
Coach Robbie Deans said he will not be calling for an immediate replacement from Australia, with fit-again Scott Higginbotham in line for a run in the Wallabies' final group match against Russia in Nelson on Saturday.
"It's pretty disappointing, it was good to get an opportunity and I've just got to move on from here," Palu told reporters in Hanmer Springs Tuesday.
"I've done this hammy (hamstring) so many times and when I first did it I had a feeling that I would probably be on a plane back home, but the scans confirmed it yesterday.
"You've got to keep moving forward, just got to keep going and I feel there's still plenty of rugby ahead of me, so I just have to aim for that."
Palu is expected to require six weeks of rehabilitation before he would be fit to be considered for selection again which would rule him out of selection for the remainder of the tournament.
"I've just got to go back home and do what I've been doing and try to get the body right and take my time with it," Palu said.
Palu said he had been frustrated by injuries this season which restricted him to just six appearances for the NSW Waratahs in the Super 15.
He was also forced out for much of the 2010 season after knee ligament surgery.
"It’s bad luck for Wycliff. Unfortunately his previous history of injury in this area has impacted, in terms of lengthening the timelines that are required for his rehabilitation," Deans said.
"He's obviously a player we would have loved to have around, but it's not to be."
While Palu will be replaced in Australia’s 30-man squad, Deans said the selectors will be taking their time with that decision, and may even delay any call until after the match against Russia, so they can determine the team’s specific needs.
Higginbotham said Tuesday he had recovered from a back injury suffered in training last week.
"It's come good and I had a little slip up last week but I had an epidural a day afterwards and I'm feeling good now, ready to train," the Queensland Reds backrower said.
"One of the most disappointing things was to miss out on a starting cap (against United States), but that was the first game I've missed this year."
The Tri-Nations champions will almost certainly advance to the
knockout stages and there was some good news about some of their walking
Experienced lock Dan Vickerman was cleared of damage to his leg and would be available for selection for the Russia match.
Fullback Kurtley Beale, however, had suffered a "minor" hamstring
injury and would be rested for this week's match, while centre Pat
McCabe, who dislocated his shoulder against the U.S., was also only
likely to be fit for the quarter-finals.
Rob Horne, who
fractured his cheekbone in Wellington last Friday, would not be
available to take his place in the centres until the semi-finals, should
the Wallabies make it that far.
A third centre, Anthony
Faingaa, was "following the IRB concussion protocols" but could be
available for Australia's next match after being knocked out cold late
in the victory over the U.S.
Winger Digby Ioane, who fractured
his thumb in Australia's opening victory against Italy, was on schedule
for a return in the quarter-finals.
Flankers David Pocock and
Scott Higginbotham, winger James O'Connor and squad captain James
Horwill were all expected to be fit to face the Russians.
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