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Image: Matt Dunham

Ankle injury means Matt Giteau has probably played his last game for the Wallabies

The Toulon star fractured his ankle in as the Wallabies were trounced in Sydney.
Aug 21st 2016, 12:27 PM 8,215 4

THE WOES MOUNTED for the beleaguered Wallabies today with news Matt Giteau would be out for the rest of the Rugby Championship series with a fractured ankle.

Scans confirmed the Australian team’s worst fears, with the French-based star ruled out and outside back Rob Horne facing a likely shoulder reconstruction. Both players, along with a third back Matt Toomua, were forced off during the first half of Australia’s horror 42-8 mauling by the world champions in Sydney yesterday.

Coach Michael Cheika faces a selection headache ahead of Australia’s return Test in Wellington on Saturday to keep alive the three-match Bledisloe Cup series against the rampant All Blacks.

Cheika will have to make do without the 103-Test capped Giteau, who is likely to have played for the Wallabies for the last time.

Giteau lasted just 10 minutes before he hobbled out of the game to be replaced by Toomua, who in turn was forced off with concussion. The 33-year-old made a big financial sacrifice to put his country before French club side Toulon, where the midfield playmaker is among the highest-paid players in world rugby.

He made no secret that he returned home to Australia during the French Top 14 season to have “one last crack” at elusive Bledisloe Cup glory.

Source: SANZAAR/YouTube

“Matt’s got a bit of a break in his leg at the top of his leg and a bit of a fracture in his ankle,” Cheika told reporters on Sunday.

“He’s disappointed but he’s also very realistic.

“He’s a pro. He knows that he’s still got to get himself right and get back to his club commitments for later in the season so that’s what he’ll be doing.”

No positives

Giteau, who came on the field on crutches after full-time, has now featured in 10 unsuccessful Bledisloe Cup campaigns against New Zealand.

He twice played in losing World Cup finals in Sydney in the 2003 decider and against the All Blacks last year at Twickenham.

Cheika said he was considering a few selection options for the second Test, and did not discount the possibility of switching Israel Folau from fullback to the centres.

“We’ll have a look at that today around the possible options that we’ve got,” he said.

Obviously, Quade Cooper is here and we could go for two ball carriers as opposed to two playmakers like we did against England in June.”

Cheika was downcast after the Wallabies’ wretched performance against the All Blacks, who are primed to retain the trans-Tasman Bledisloe Cup they have held since 2003.

Asked if there were any positives to be taken from the wreckage, Cheika told reporters after Saturday’s game: “Not really. That would be a lie of me if I tried to find one.

“They’ll have a chance to work on it in seven days. There’ll be no bigger test of mental fortitude than that.”

Beauden Barrett runs in a try Beauden Barrett was unstoppable in Sydney. Source: Photosport/Paul Seiser/INPHO

Cheika, who has now presided over five straight Wallabies defeats since last October’s World Cup final loss to New Zealand, was caustic about his team’s feeble defence.

“I thought we defended very poorly,” he said. “Defence is attitude, so there’s no rustiness. Let’s get that one out of the way straight away. When players run you’ve got to tackle.”

The Wallabies missed a total of 40 tackles, lost four lineouts on their own throw and conceded a tight head scrum as the All Blacks claimed their biggest-winning margin in Australia.

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