Wallabies sweat on Folau scans, expect Tupou return in Auckland

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Israel Folau has gone for scans on a swollen ankle and appears in doubt to play in next week’s second Bledisloe Test.

Folau rolled his ankle after jumping to contest the ball in the 63rd minute, hobbling off the ground and down the race.

“(Folau has) a swollen ankle, looked like he rolled it when he went up to catch, so we will see after he gets the scan exactly what the diagnosis is,” Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said.

If Folau is ruled out, Dane Haylett-Petty would likely slot into the vacant fullback spot, opening the door for Sydney debutant Jack Maddocks to possibly win his first Test start.

While Folau is in a race against the clock, Cheika was positive that injured prop Taniela Tupou would be fit to return from a hamstring injury after he was a late withdrawal in Sydney.

“We'll have to see how he goes early in the week but we think that he will be back next week, all going well in his preparation and his rehab,” he said.

“It's not a huge issue, we thought we might even have been able to get him back on the paddock for this week but we decided because of the positioning of it that we thought we'd wait and try and keep the rehab going and we didn’t want to increase or exaggerate the injury."

Injuries aside, Cheika’s men have a lot of working to do in the next seven days starting with a vulnerable lineout, losing seven of their own throws.

Cheika batted away a suggestion that Tatafu Polota-Nau’s limited involvement with the team since last November was a factor.

“It's not like he arrived today, he's been here for two weeks, had plenty of practice and it wasn't just him,” he said.

“It was Tolu as well, with the lineout combination. I thought he actually did pretty well first game of the season, he was right in it.

“Often with lineouts it goes like that there's one or two things wrong in different areas that are accumulating to a bunch of them.

“I thought we were just a little bit slow in getting set up and going.

“They're a good defensive lineout, we gave them too much chance to get into the picture.”

This Sydney loss was the inverse of their past two disasters, with a strong start unwound by a second-half collapse.

Cheika said the way to avoid that was simple.

“When it goes against us like that we need to keep coming, we need to keep the spark in our defence and just keep coming and keep standing up in defence and on turnovers more acceleration in the position to defend and stay at it,” he said.

“When it doesn't go your way like that or things aren't happening how you want them to, you've just got to keep coming and we'll see where it goes from there.

“Even when we made some really good attacking raids in the second half, we tossed the ball away and we should've just kept doing what we need to do which is take that down, present the ball long and let's go again.”

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper could only rue the side’s missed chances after his first rugby match since June.

“Yeah, it's really disappointing isn't it?,” he said.

“(We were) really building some nice phases, particularly when you do get down in the other end and throwing the ball away.

“Not just backing what we can do to hold the ball and go over.

“Probably one or two, if we hold that one or two phases later we’re walking on in with some of the guys we have out on the edge and we didn't do that.”

The All Blacks have their own injury concerns heading into the second Test.

Coach Steve Hansen ruled Ryan Crotty (concussion) out in the post-match and said winger Rieko Ioane was also unlikely to suit up in the clash after a hamstring injury.