Beale ruled out, Ashley-Cooper to start at 15

The Australian full-back has a hamstring strain and won’t be available to face the All Blacks on Sunday.

Image: Rob Griffith/AP/Press Association Images

AUSTRALIA HAVE SUFFERED a major injury blow on the eve of their Rugby World Cup semi-final showdown against neighbours and fierce rivals New Zealand.

Although he was initially included in Robbie Deans’ starting XV, full-back Kurtley Beale has failed to respond to treatment for a hamstring strain and will now sit out his team’s clash with the All Blacks.

The 22-year-old has been an important player for the Wallabies at the tournament so far and while he took a limited part in training on Saturday, he was subsequently withdrawn.

As a result, Adam Ashley-Cooper moves to 15 with Anthony Fainga’a moving to midfield. Rob Horne has been called up to the bench.

“It’s disappointing but is an outcome we’d catered for through our preparation this week,” Deans admitted.

“We always anticipated it would be unlikely that Kurtley would be ready, but we wanted to give him every opportunity to make it. Unfortunately time has run out.”

The injury will force the rest of the Wallabies to make up for the loss of Beale, according to scrum-half Will Genia. He said:

“It makes everyone else have to step up as a group and as a team. As a group we’ll have to work out how to cover the loss because he’s such a good player.”

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The All Blacks, of course, have had to cope with injury problems of their own. They face the Aussies without Dan Carter, who had surgery earlier this week, as well as second-choice fly-half Colin Slade and there have also been concerns over the fitness of their influential captain Richie McCaw.

READ – As it happened: Wales v France

READ – Shane Jennings’ World Cup diary: the final chapter

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