Auckland - Australia winger Pat McCabe may face another lengthy spell on the sidelines after appearing to suffer his third serious neck injury in the Wallabies' 51-20 loss to the All Blacks in their Rugby Championship clash on Saturday.
McCabe, who has broken his neck twice, was replaced in the second half of the loss at Eden Park and was wearing a neck brace at Auckland airport as the team prepared to travel home on Sunday.
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie told Australian reporters at the airport that initial scans on McCabe's neck had shown worrying signs for the Brumbies back who made a comeback to the sport this year after sustaining two neck fractures.
"It was fairly innocuous, he just got a knock and felt it on the top of his head," McKenzie told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"When you have these injuries you get a feeling for the symptoms and he felt there were similarities so he came straight off.
"He had a scan last night, there's no risk or anything, the brace is purely precautionary, but it shows on the scan that there might be a recurrence of the same injury.
"He'll see the surgeon this week and we'll get a diagnosis. That's a pretty disappointing outcome."
McCabe is almost certain to miss Australia's next clash, against South Africa in Perth on 6 September and is in grave doubt for the rest of the Rugby Championship.
Wallabies hooker Nathan Charles is also in danger of being ruled out for the rest of the Rugby Championship after he suffered what McKenzie thought could be a pectoral injury in the Eden Park match.
Charles is the latest in a line of injured Wallabies hookers to be ruled out, with captain Stephen Moore injured in the first minute of his first Test as captain against France in June with a season-ending knee injury.
Tatafu Polota-Nau is also battling with a knee injury, while Tolu Latu broke his arm in a club match after being called into the Wallabies squad.
James Hanson, who replaced Charles on Saturday, is in line to make his first Test start against South Africa while Saia Fainga'a is set for a recall on the bench.