Wallabies coach Robbie Deans was bracing for the worst on Saturday night after George Smith suffered a knee injury that was likely to keep the champion flanker out of the coming series with the British and Irish Lions.
A veteran of Australia's 2001 series triumph over the Lions, a dejected Smith trudged up the tunnel on the hour mark of the Brumbies' 28-22 Super Rugby loss to arch rivals NSW at ANZ Stadium.
On a dire night for Deans before he names a 25-man squad on Sunday to take on the Lions, NSW's incumbent Test hooker Totafu Polota-Nau sustained a likely broken forearm, while four other hopefuls were also hurt.
Deans, though, was most dreading losing Smith, who dominated the ruck battle before the Waratahs recovered from 22-16 down to steal the win in Smith's absence.
"I'm not going to say that he is fine. He got a bang on the knee and there's obviously a concern," Brumbies coach Jake White said.
"At this point of time it looks like it might be his medial ligament, which is not the one that needs surgery, but for Robbie's concern, if it's a six- to eight-week injury that means he won't be involved in the Lions series.
"Hopefully it's good news on Monday after the scan.
"It just goes to show how highly regarded he is even by Robbie ... You saw how much he means to us tonight as well. He was outstanding again tonight.
"I know he got penalised a few times but the work rate that he gets through on the field is phenomenal."
Polota-Nau is almost certainly out of the Lions series, but White and Waratahs coach Michael Cheika were less concerned about other players injured in a brutal derby that left the Brumbies vulnerable to relinquishing their Australian conference lead to the Queensland Reds.
Waratahs centre Rob Horne copped a poke in the eye and was replaced at halftime by Berrick Barnes, who surely clinched his place in the national squad with a second successive match-turning display.
Horne's opposite number Christian Lealiifano suffered a corked thigh and was also unable to return after the break, while his replacement, Wallaby centre Pat McCabe, was another to hobble off with a knee injury.
And incumbent Test lock Kane Douglas lasted less than a minute after being concussed in a heavy tackle from Smith.
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