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Wallabies lose star backs

Sun, 30 Sep 2012 16:04
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[Adam Ashley-Cooper] is up and about

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The Wallabies on Sunday took stock of their walking wounded in the wake of their brutal battering at the hands of the Springboks in Pretoria.

In a particularly physical encounter, an injury-ravaged Australia were forced to see out the match with 14 men after losing five players to injury and exhausting their seven substitutions.

Coach Robbie Deans confirmed that Adam Ashley-Cooper escaped serious head and neck injuries after he was knocked unconscious while making a try-saving tackle on Zane Kirchner but said he will return to Australia.

"[Adam Ashley-Cooper] is up and about, which is encouraging for him because it didn't look good," said Deans.

Fullback Berrick Barnes will also miss the team’s final Rugby Championship Test against Argentina on Saturday after suffering a punctured lung.

There is also doubt over winger Digby Ioane (knee cap), veteran loose forward Radike Samo (shoulder) and hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau (neck/shoulder).

Deans has called up Melbourne Rebels lock Cadeyrn Neville and Reds utility back Luke Morahan for the match in Rosario.

Deans said the sheer number of injuries his team suffered made victory nigh-impossible.

"The circumstances at the end were bizarre. Halfbacks on the wing, down to 14 men, the amount of carnage we'd had in terms of injuries was unprecedented. It would take a superhuman effort to get up from there. It was asking too much,” he said.

"South Africa played well, give them credit. They didn't allow us to get front foot ball. Playing against 14,13, and 12 makes it easier."

The Wallaby coach condemned the confusion surrounding the team’s front row changes.

"Our manager inquired as to whether Tatafu Polota-Nau could be replaced and he was told by the fourth referee he could, so we then brought him off the ground. At that point, they determined that he couldn't [be replaced]," Deans explained.

"Then when we attempted to return him to the field of play they said 'no he's off for injury'. That was a source of frustration. It didn't make it easy at the end."

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