Michael Hooper (Gallo Images)
London - Australia flank Michael Hooper has
been ruled out of the Pool A decider against Wales after being handed a
one-week ban for charging into a ruck shoulder first during last weekend's
33-13 Rugby World Cup victory over England.
Hooper pleaded guilty to a charge of foul
play at a hearing on Tuesday, the Australian Rugby Union said in a statement,
and a two-week ban was reduced to one because of his "early admission and
good behavioural record".
Hooper, Australia's vice-captain, will
subsequently miss the meeting with the Welsh on Saturday but will be available
for the quarter-finals the following week.
Saturday's match at Twickenham will decide
which of the countries tops the pool, with the losers likely to face twice
world champions South Africa in the quarter-finals.
Hooper's absence will be a blow to the
Wallabies, who have used him and his fellow openside flank David Pocock to
great effect in victories over New Zealand, Fiji and England this season.
Australia have a wealth of options in the
back row, however, and openside Sean McMahon and the versatile Ben McCalman
both scored two tries and were the best players on the pitch when the Wallabies
fielded a second string side against Uruguay.
"We have got a squad of 31 and that's
the reason you have a squad of 31," attack coach Stephen Larkham said on
"We have a couple of excellent players
waiting for their chance - Ben McCalman and Sean McMahon have both played
really well in the tournament.
"McMahon, McCalman have put their
hands up in this tournament. We may have to chop and change. Sean could slot in
at seven, or Ben can go to eight and Pocock at seven."
Fullback Israel Folau could also miss the
match after turning his ankle in the victory over England last weekend, Larkham
The former rugby league international, an
almost permanent starter since making his debut against the British and Irish
Lions in 2013, was taken off in the 65th minute of the Twickenham triumph last
Larkham said wing Rob Horne, who injured
his shoulder in the match, would almost certainly miss the match against Wales
but Folau was also a worry.
"The other injury concern is
Izzy," he added. "He came off the field in the game with a sore ankle
and didn't train yesterday, so we'll see how he pulls up today and whether he
Kurtley Beale is most likely to fill in at
fullback against the Welsh if Folau is unable to start.