David Pocock has been ruled out of Saturday’s Brisbane Test with a neck injury.
New Zealand targeted Pocock heavily in the breakdown in their two Bledisloe Tests and the Kiwis’ treatment left the flanker with neck soreness that he is yet to fully shake off.
After the Auckland Bledisloe Test, Pocock could barely move his neck and nearly a fortnight later he is still suffering stiffness amid concerns for his long-term health.
The flanker will be replaced in the starting side by Pete Samu.
Pocock’s absence is a major blow for the Wallabies, with the backrower arguably their form player of 2018 after a year’s sabbatical in 2017.
The door was open for Pocock to pounce in the breakdown in Brisbane against the Springboks after the Springboks benched hooker and prolific fetcher Malcolm Marx.
This will be Samu’s first Test start after first linking up with the Australian camp in June.
Wallabies captain Michael Hooper said Pocock's absence would be a big blow to the team but had full faith in Samu to step up.
"I'm very disappointed for David and the team, he's been in outstanding form all year and he's a big leader," he said.
"Even just for him - he really wants to be out there, he's given himself every chance, he's been ticking all the boxes but it hasn't come to light.
"It's unfortunate but Pete's coming in, Pete Samu and he's been doing a great job in the cameos he's been having off the bench."
Samu came from outside the 23 to start, ahead of replacement forward Ned Hanigan and fellow squad backrower Caleb Timu.
Hooper said it was just a matter of a like-for-like replacement option.
"It's a different combination there of course. I've been very impressed with Pete and his performances throughout the year," he said.
"It's a straight swap just in terms of how our plays go and how we look to change the game.
"Without changing too much, he comes in and fits in that role nicely."
The Wallabies take on the Springboks on Saturday September 8, kicking off at 8pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Channel Ten, Macquarie Radio and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.
IN: Rory Arnold, Israel Folau, Taniela Tupou, Ned Hanigan, Joe Powell, Pete Samu
OUT: Tom Banks, Sekope Kepu, Rob Simmons, Pete Samu, Nick Phipps, David Pocock
Wallabies to take on the Springboks
1. Scott Sio (47 Tests)
2. Tatafu Polota-Nau (84 Tests)
3. Allan Alaalatoa (25 Tests)
4. Rory Arnold (15 Tests)
5. Adam Coleman (25 Tests)
6. Lukhan Tui (9 Tests)
7. Michael Hooper (c) (84 Tests)
8. Pete Samu (5 Tests)
9. Will Genia (92 Tests)
10. Kurtley Beale (76 Tests)
11. Marika Koroibete (13 Tests)
12. Matt Toomua (35 Tests)
13. Reece Hodge (29 Tests)
14. Dane Haylett-Petty (23 Tests)
15. Israel Folau (66 Tests)
16. Folau Faingaa (1 Test)
17. Tom Robertson (23 Tests)
18. Taniela Tupou (4 Tests)
19. Izack Rodda (9 Tests)
20. Ned Hanigan (13 Tests)
21. Joe Powell (4 Tests)
22. Bernard Foley (60 Tests)
23. Jack Maddocks (2 Tests)