George Smith and Pat McCabe's hopes of playing for the Wallabies against the British and Irish Lions series remain alive after scans revealed their knee injuries were not as bad as first feared.
Champion openside flanker Smith has been diagnosed with a grade two medial ligament tear suffered in the Brumbies' 28-22 loss to the NSW Waratahs on Saturday night, meaning a best-case scenario could see him back on the park within six weeks.
That would give the 110-test veteran just a slim hope of returning for an historic second crack at the Lions in the second test in Melbourne on June 29.
However it is more likely Smith will miss the three-test series and won't return to the field until the Brumbies' July 13 final-round Super Rugby fixture against the Western Force in Perth.
The news is better for Brumbies teammate and Wallabies centre McCabe, who also incurred knee damage against the Waratahs on Saturday.
Scans showed no structural damage to McCabe's knee and he is expected to return for the Brumbies' May 31 clash against the Hurricanes in Canberra.
It will give McCabe just enough time to impress Wallabies coach Robbie Deans for one of the final six squad spots to be announced on June 11 for the Lions series.
"It's a bit hard to put a time line at the moment," McCabe said.
"It's a matter of this swelling settling down and then I can start running and it won't be much longer.
"I'm almost walking normally now."
McCabe had extra cause to be pleased on Tuesday after announcing he had re-signed with the Brumbies and the ARU for a further two years.
Despite fierce competition in the Brumbies backline resulting in the 18-Test Wallaby sitting most of the 2013 season on the bench, McCabe said he was never tempted to look to other clubs.
"For me, it was about where I was going to learn the most and improve the most and with Stephen Larkham here and the backs we've got here, this was the place for me," he said.
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