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Wallabies sweat over injured stars

Sat, 22 Jun 2013 19:33
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Quade Cooper might come into it
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The Wallabies' dressing-room may have looked like a casualty ward Saturday, but the British and Irish Lions are looking forward to improved injury news ahead of next week's potentially decisive second Test in Melbourne.

The Australians had three backs stretchered off during the 23-21 first Test loss, and face a nervous wait this weekend on their availability for the remainder of the series.

Christian Lealiifano was knocked out cold going for a head-on tackle on Jonathan Davies, while Berrick Barnes had a head clash and replacement Pat McCabe was taken off with neck trouble.

The battered Wallabies have further injury concerns over centre Adam Ashley-Cooper and wing Digby Ioane in what could prove a damaging match for Robbie Deans's team.

But the Lions are looking for the return from injury of wing Tommy Bowe and centre Manu Tuilagi as the tourists look to ram home their advantage in next week's second Test and chase their first series win in 16 years.

"Tommy Bowe is fit and available, he trained today [Saturday] and did contact," head coach Warren Gatland said.

"Manu [Tuilagi] should be fit for selection for Tuesday [against the Melbourne Rebels] as well. Having some firepower come back and some options is hopefully going to be good for the final two weeks."

In contrast to the Wallabies' plight, the Lions only had an injury concern over prop Alex Corbisiero from the Test.

"Corbisiero's calf was a bit tight. He's worked through that during the game. Waiting until tomorrow to see how that turns out," Gatland said.

Gatland also praised centre Jonathan Davies' sportsmanship in seeking attention for the stricken Lealiifano in the opening minute of the Test.

"Jonathan Davies has just hit up, Lealiifano has gone low, been knocked out," Gatland said.

"In fairness to Jonathan Davies, he stopped play straight away there and got the referee's attention. I thought that was really tremendous sportsmanship from him.

Gatland added: "Australia's got enough strength and depth in being to call on players like Anthony Faingaa and Ben Tapuai or... Quade Cooper might come into it [laughing]."

Flyhalf Cooper was controversially omitted from Deans' Test squad in a move which was openly welcomed by the Lions coaching team.

AFP

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