Wallaby winger to miss All Black battles

CHRIS BARCLAY
Last updated 05:00 11/08/2014

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The Wallabies have lost backline strike weapon Joe Tomane ahead of the Bledisloe Cup double header with the All Blacks.

Tomane, who was in contention to replace Japan-bound Nick Cummins on the left wing in Saturday's Rugby Championship opener in Sydney, could be sidelined for up to three weeks with a hamstring strain.

The injury continues the 24-year-old's wretched luck in 2014 after a fractured cheekbone ruled the nine-cap Wallaby out of June's three-test series with France.

His ACT Brumbies teammate Pat McCabe is now poised for his first test start since the Wallabies' loss to France in November 2012 - selection in 23-man line-up when it is named today would cap a remarkable comeback from two potentially career-ending neck injuries.

The hard-running McCabe fractured his neck on the Wallabies' end-of-year European tour in 2012 and then again against the British and Irish Lions last year to put the 26-year-old utility's playing future in doubt.

Tomane, who would have been on the bench at ANZ Stadium if not the starting line-up, has been replaced by uncapped Melbourne Rebels back Tom English.

Wallabies head coach Ewen McKenzie has also had to draft in a replacement prop for the second time since the squad embarked on their "back to the bush" training camp in rural New South Wales with Laurie Weeks withdrawing after he aggravated a pre-existing hamstring injury.

Weeks, who joined the squad last Tuesday after Scott Sio rolled an ankle during the first training session, has been replaced by NSW Waratahs' Super Rugby-winning front rower Paddy Ryan.

The Melbourne Rebels tighthead is the third front row casualty following Sio and first choice hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, who suffered a knee injury in last Saturday's Super Rugby final win over the Crusaders.

Fortunately the injuries suffered by Weeks and Tomane are considered minor and they may be able to rejoin the squad in two to three weeks.

"It's disappointing to lose Laurie and Joe at this point, but as has been consistent with our stance on injuries over the past year, we're going to continue to take a pragmatic approach and give guys with issues the chance to focus solely on their rehab before re-joining the squad," McKenzie said.

"We don't expect them to miss more than a couple of weeks, and when they become available for selection once again we'll know they are healthy and ready to contribute."

Ryan and English have both been exposed to the Wallabies in 2014 with Ryan earning his third cap in the second test victory over France in Melbourne; English was also part of the squad during the French series as one of four additional training squad members.

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The Wallabies are on a seven-match winning streak but face a typically tough start to the Rugby Championship as they strive to reclaim the Bledisloe Cup with wins in Sydney - and ideally Auckland seven days later - before October's third trans-Tasman test in Brisbane.

- Stuff

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