Brumbies winger Joe Tomane could face a race against time to be fit for the June Tests, with a medial strain set to put him out for 6-10 weeks.
Scans on Tuesday afternoon will determine the severity of Tomane’s knee injury that ended his match against the Crusaders in the 77th minute.
While the length of his absence is yet to be confirmed, Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham all but ruled Tomane out of this weekend’s crunch match against the Highlanders.
Larkham said it was a major blow for Tomane and the Brumbies, with the winger in career-best form.
“He’s been outstanding and you look at his game on the weekend, he was superb in attack and defensively he was up against Nadolo and tried to put a number of shots on him,” he said.
“He bounced off a couple of times but kept coming back at him.
“It was one of his better performances defensively.
“He’s been on fire this year, it’s been his best season by a long way.”
Nigel Ah Wong and James Dargaville shape as the most likely to step into Tomane’s starting shoes in Invercargill this weekend.
A call will be made on co-captain Stephen Moore after Tuesday’s training session, with the side travelling to New Zealand on Wednesday.
“Squeaky's got a bit of swelling in his calf. He basically got a ruck mark and bled down into his calf,” he said.
“He was a bit sore this morning but we’ll see how he goes this afternoon before we make a definitive call.
“Travel’s not ideal for corks so we’ll see how he goes this afternoon and let the boys know at the end of training.”
The Brumbies will be boosted by the impending of flanker David Pocock, who will back from suspension this week.
While Jarrad Butler has been serviceable as the replacement openside flanker, Larkham said Pocock would be a welcome addition to the team.
“Just the energy he brings,” he said.
“We talk about trying to get our on and off-field balance right and Poey brings really good balance to both.
“You see him on the paddock, when he plays he’s one of the world’s best so it’s invaluable to have out there.”
Whether Butler will shift to number 8 or Jordan Smiler will retain that jersey remains to be seen but it’s a call that Larkham said would likely come after Tuesday’s session, with the side’s early travelling time.
“We’ll have a look at both of those combinations and make a decision based on how it goes at the end of the session.”
The Brumbies face the Highlanders in Invercargill on Saturday, kicking off at 3:15pm AEST.