Battle-scarred No.8 Wycliff Palu has been ruled out of the Wallabies two-Test tour of South Africa and Argentina.
The Wallabies must overcome the granite-like Springboks pack without chief enforcer Wycliff Palu due to lingering concussion concerns.
In an added difficulty to hopes of taking South Africa’s place at No.2 on the world rankings, Palu won’t be a part of Australia’s upcoming two-Test Rugby Championship tour.
The powerhouse No.8 missed Saturday night’s clash against Argentina after suffering concussion symptoms following the previous week’s 24-23 victory over the Boks.
Due to the nature of the post-match affects, and Palu’s injury history, the Wallabies medical staff have advised the battle-scarred 32-year-old to have an extended break.
An Australian team spokesman confirmed the 53-Test back-rower faced further time on the sidelines and would only return to action once he passes concussion protocols.
It’s a continuation of the Wallabies’ injury dramas after they lost their other most hard-hitting forward, hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau (ankle), in the 32-25 win over Argentina on the Gold Coast.
Skipper Michael Hooper had underlined the importance of the punishing duo before the Pumas Test by praising their muscle, experience and ability to produce game-changing plays at key moments.
While Australia’s hooking stocks are at an all-time low, at least there is stronger depth in the back-row with Ben McCalman keeping Scott Higginbotham out of the No.8 jersey and on the bench.
Queensland Reds No.8 Jake Schatz, brought into camp last week as a train-on player, is also in good form after scoring a hat-trick of tries for Brisbane City in the NRC at Lismore on Sunday.
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie, who admitted on Sunday that Palu’s return date was “complicated”, is set to announce a 28-man tour squad for the Tests in South Africa (Sept 27) and Argentina (Oct 4) on Wednesday.
A victory over the Springboks in Cape Town would see Australia win back the Nelson Mandela Plate and also leapfrog them on the IRB rankings to only trail all-conquering New Zealand.
Will Genia, now with two NRC matches under his belt in his return from ankle surgery, is expected to tour as a back-up to Nick Phipps cemented the No.9 jersey with his sharp display against Argentina.
The Wallabies are confident lock Sam Carter will be available despite reaggravating the ankle problem which sidelined him during the June series against France.