The Wallabies could lose a third forward for Saturday night’s second Test against France with Wycliff Palu nursing an ankle injury.
Bustling Wycliff Palu looks set to be the third forwards casualty from the Wallabies’ opening Test pounding of France.
The injury-plagued Palu missed training at Sanctuary Cove on Monday afternoon to nurse an ankle problem that has him in serious doubt for the second Test in Melbourne on Saturday night.
In-form Western Force No.8 Ben McCalman looms as the 116kg powerhouse’s replacement, poised to join former skipper James Horwill and hooker Tatafu-Polota-Nau in receiving starting recalls on Tuesday.
Palu produced a strong 55-minute display in the 50-23 win at Suncorp Stadium where captain Stephen Moore (knee) and debutant lock Sam Carter (ankle) also paid a huge price in the victory.
The Wallabies, though, would lose little at the back of the scrum with McCalman proving himself to be one of the best forwards in Super Rugby this season.
“He’s been very consistent and very solid and has led the way in a lot of key areas,” McKenzie said. “He fits the physical profile of what we think is required.”
Polota-Nau was always certain to replace Moore after his outstanding 75 minutes off the bench, while Horwill brings 49 caps of experience to a pack that may need extra punch against a France outfit expected to be at full strength.
The Queensland skipper was praised by coach McKenzie and teammates for the way he responded to last week’s dumping to the bench, and the coach again spoke highly of his “leadership” on Monday.
“The cards didn’t fall his way but it didn’t stop him contributing to the team and that’s what you want,” he told AAP.
Rising Melbourne Rebels second-rower Luke Jones appears set to beat Waratahs giant Will Skelton to a bench spot for a Test debut at home at Etihad Stadium.
McKenzie called Reds hooker James Hanson into his training squad as a replacement for Moore but will leave him and several others behind when a 24-man squad travels to Melbourne on Wednesday.
Likely Wallabies starting team: Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, Nick Cummins, Bernard Foley, Nic White; Ben McCalman, Michael Hooper (capt), Scott Fardy, James Horwill, Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, James Slipper.