Rugby World Cup 2011

Double blow for Wallabies

2011-09-17 07:49
David Pocock (Gallo)

Auckland - Australia suffered a double blow ahead of Saturday's Rugby World Cup Pool C clash with Ireland when flank David Pocock and hooker Stephen Moore were forced to withdraw from the Eden Park match.

The highly-rated 23-year-old Pocock, the only specialist openside flank in the Australian squad, was withdrawn from the team in the morning because of "soreness associated with a back strain".

Moore followed suit just over an hour before the match because of illness.

Ben McCalman, usually a blindside flank or number eight, has been brought into the side in place of Pocock with number eight Wycliff Palu joining the replacements on the bench.

"It's more of an ongoing irritation than anything serious, scans have shown nothing sinister, but David is a key member of our group," coach Robbie Deans said in a team release. "We would rather give him a bit of time to get it right before putting him back out there."

Moore, who has Irish parents, will be replaced by Tatafu Polota-Nau in the starting team with Reds hooker Saia Faingaa joining the replacements.

Pocock will be a big loss to the Australians in a match where Ireland's ball-running back row and experienced midfield present a threat to Australia's hopes of dictating their own passage through the draw.

The winner of the match will almost certainly top Pool C and set up a quarter-final with the second-placed team from Pool D, likely to be Wales, Fiji or Samoa.

Saturday's losers are likely to finish second and play defending champions South Africa in the quarter-finals and, if they get through that, the All Blacks could be waiting in the last four.

Deans said McCalman was well suited to playing in the number seven shirt after his experience playing international sevens.

"Although Ben isn't a recognised openside, he does have some recent background there and has trained in the role on a regular basis with us this year," Deans added.

"We were looking to give him an outing on the openside before our pool programme concluded, it's now just come a bit earlier than we'd originally planned.

"He's looking forward to the opportunity and we believe in him. That's why we opted to utilise him as David's back up when we looked at our selection mix for the squad."

Palu's elevation to the bench means a likely return to international rugby for the first time since the end of 2009 for the burly backrow forward.


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