The Wallabies suffered a string of injuries in the 23-21 first Test loss to the Lions, starting in the first minute as debutant Christian Leali’ifano was forced from the field. Amongst other losses, today it was confirmed that Pat McCabe will be out for the year.
The home side’s gameplan was thrown into a spin within a minute of kickoff as playmaker Leali’ifano, who has been superb for the Brumbies in the last two seasons, took a heavy knock via Jonathan Davies. He left the field but this week has made a good recovery, following IRB concussion guidelines, and is expected to be available for selection.
The next to go was Berrick Barnes, who collided for Israel Folau after a little push from George North. Barnes has had a history of concussions and even stopped rugby for a while because of it.
Unlike Leali’ifano, Barnes will not be considered for Saturday, but may make a return for the third.
Replacement centre McCabe came on but later had to leave the field with a recurrence of a neck injury, and after consultation with specialists, has been ruled out of rugby for the rest of the year.
“The specialist advice is that a return is viable pending the full recovery and strengthening of the neck. Only time can do that, but we will be monitoring it closely throughout the healing process,” said Wallabies doctor Warren McDonald.
“There is certainly no way that Pat will be returning to the game without a thorough assessment process to ensure he can have full confidence in the bone that has fractured.”
He will be in a neck brace for a minimum of six weeks. “Could have been worse,” McCabe said.
Digby Ioane, who had a warrant issued for his arrest earlier this week, is also out of the series after he suffered internal damage to his right shoulder and may require surgery.
Joe Tomane, a former school and rugby league mate of Israel Folau’s, will likely make his second Test start on Saturday. He is expected to start on the wing, with Kurtley Beale starting at fullback.
For the Lions, Geoff Parling will probably replace Paul O’Connell, while Mako Vunipola may be given a starting spot due to Alex Corbisiero’s ongoing calf struggles. Tommy Bowe is fit again after a hand injury, so he could replace Alex Cuthbert on the right wing.
UPDATE: Both teams have been announced. View them here
Below is a quick look at how three of the main Wallaby injuries occured in the first Test