Vodacom Super 14

Waratahs to be tested

2010-04-13 09:56
Tatafu Polota-Nau, left (Gallo)
Sydney - While the Wallabies need to find a No 8 to replace Wycliff Palu, the Waratahs are bound to be short of Test forwards for their next match against the Brumbies at ANZ Stadium on April 24, with Benn Robinson and Tatafu Polota-Nau in serious doubt.

Scans on Monday confirmed that Palu's season was over as he requires a knee reconstruction after rupturing his right anterior cruciate ligament against the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday night.

It was also discovered that Test prop Robinson has a small fracture in his right forearm, while Wallabies hooker Polota-Nau has ligament damage in his right shoulder.

The injuries will test the resources at Wallabies and Waratahs levels. Palu was the incumbent Test No 8, leaving the Force's Richard Brown - himself only recently returned from injury - his likely replacement when the Wallabies regroup in June for the domestic Tests against Fiji, England and Ireland. Other options are more left-field, including Queensland backrower Scott Higginbotham, or even moving Wallabies skipper Rocky Elsom from the blindside to No 8.

Palu's departure could even resuscitate the Test career of Brumbies No.8 Stephen Hoiles, but since taking over as Wallabies coach, Robbie Deans has consistently overlooked the Brumbies skipper.

For the Waratahs, the loss of Robinson and Polota-Nau will stretch the squad's forward resources. Robinson's most likely replacement in the front row is Sekope Kepu, while Damien Fitzpatrick will be elevated if Polota-Nau is sidelined for an extended period. But just who would move on to the reserves' bench for both front-row spots is open to conjecture.

Palu's state replacement at No.8 is likely to be either Ben Mowen or Dave Dennis.

However, Waratahs team officials have not yet given up on Robinson and Polota-Nau playing against the Brumbies, believing that having a bye this week will help.

Waratahs five-eighth Daniel Halangahu, who had an off night against the Crusaders, has been diagnosed with a grade-one right medial ligament strain, and is expected to be available for the Brumbies game.

Brumbies fullback Julian Huxley has, meanwhile, been cleared to play against the Hurricanes in Canberra on Friday night after being thrown heavily on to his head in a tackle against the Cheetahs.

The SANZAR judiciary suspended Cheetahs No 8 Kabamba Floors for five weeks after the 77th-minute tackle was deemed dangerous.

Adding to the concern was that Huxley admitted in a post-match media interview that he was somewhat dazed. On Monday Huxley, who two years ago was diagnosed as having a brain tumour, and the Brumbies management said he was 100% fit and ready for the next round.

''I am feeling a bit sore and sorry, but I'll be right for this weekend,'' Huxley said on Monday. ''I did cop a couple of knocks, and was a bit dazed at the time. But there's no ill-effects, and after a thorough check-up, there's no problem whatsoever …

''I would say to everyone just relax, and enjoy it as much as I'm enjoying it out there.''


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