Sydney - The
woes mounted for the beleaguered Wallabies on Sunday with news Matt
Giteau would be out for the rest of the Rugby Championship series with a
Scans confirmed the Australian team's worst fears, with the
French-based star ruled out and outside back Rob Horne facing a likely
Both players along with a third back Matt Toomua were forced off
during the first half of Australia's horror 42-8 mauling by the world
champions in Sydney on Saturday.
Coach Michael Cheika faces a selection headache ahead of Australia's
return Test in Wellington on Saturday to keep alive the three-match
Bledisloe Cup series against the rampant All Blacks.
Cheika will have to make do without the 103-Test capped Giteau, who
turns 34 next month and is likely to have played for the Wallabies for
the last time.
Giteau lasted just 10 minutes before he hobbled out of the game to be
replaced by Toomua, who in turn was forced off with concussion.
Giteau made a big financial sacrifice to put his country before
French club side Toulon, where the midfield playmaker is among the
highest-paid players in world rugby.
He made no secret that he returned home to Australia during the
French Top 14 season to have "one last crack" at elusive Bledisloe Cup
"Matt's got a bit of a break in his leg at the top of his leg and a
bit of a fracture in his ankle," Cheika told reporters on Sunday.
"He's disappointed but he's also very realistic.
"He's a pro. He knows that he's still got to get himself right and
get back to his club commitments for later in the season so that's what
he'll be doing."
Giteau, who came on the field
on crutches after fulltime, has now featured in 10 unsuccessful
Bledisloe Cup campaigns against New Zealand.
He twice played in losing World Cup finals in Sydney in the 2003 decider and against the All Blacks last year at Twickenham.
Cheika said he was considering a few selection options for the second
Test, and did not discount the possibility of switching Israel Folau
from fullback to the centres.
"We'll have a look at that today around the possible options that we've got," he said.
"Obviously, Quade Cooper is here and we could go for two ball
carriers as opposed to two playmakers like we did against England in
Cheika was downcast after the Wallabies' wretched performance against
the All Blacks, who are primed to retain the trans-Tasman Bledisloe Cup
they have held since 2003.
Asked if there were any positives to be taken from the wreckage,
Cheika told reporters after Saturday's game: "Not really. That would be a
lie of me if I tried to find one.
"They'll have a chance to work on it in seven days. There'll be no bigger test of mental fortitude than that."
Cheika, who has now presided over five straight Wallabies defeats
since last October's World Cup final loss to New Zealand, was caustic
about his team's feeble defence.
"I thought we defended very poorly," he said. "Defence is attitude,
so there's no rustiness. Let's get that one out of the way straight
away. When players run you've got to tackle."
The Wallabies missed a total of 40 tackles, lost four lineouts on
their own throw and conceded a tight head scrum as the All Blacks
claimed their biggest-winning margin in Australia.