Australia: Lalakai Foketi ruled out of remainder of Wallabies tour due to shin injury

Lalakai Foketi Australia v France ANS 2022 - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy
Lalakai Foketi Australia v France ANS 2022 - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy

Australia suffered a setback with the news that star centre Lalakai Foketi has been ruled out of the rest of their end-of-year tour due to a shin injury sustained in Saturday’s loss to France in Paris.

Foketi rounded off an outstanding 95-metre try for the Wallabies in the 18th minute of their 30-29 defeat against Les Bleus but limped off the field five minutes later, after sustaining his injury with Hunter Paisami coming on as a replacement.

Wallabies coach confirms extent of injury

Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie confirmed Foketi would not be in action during the rest of the tour and said management would decide soon on who would come into the squad as a replacement.

Currently, Paisami and Len Ikitau are the Wallabies’ only specialist centres. Other players, like Andrew Kellaway, Reece Hodge and Jordan Petaia, could fill in if required.

Foketi flew to Australia on Sunday and faces a lengthy recovery before returning to action with the Waratahs in Super Rugby which begins in February.

Former Brumbies and Waratahs centre Irae Simone, who has represented the Wallabies in two Tests, was viewed as a possible replacement, but is also on the sidelines currently with an injury and did not play for his current club Clermont Auvergne in the Top 14 over the weekend.

“We’re a bit thin from a midfield point of view,” Rennie told the Sydney Morning Herald. “We’ll look to bring someone in.”

Rennie also provided positive news on full-back Tom Banks and front-row Allan Alaalatoa, who were ruled out of the France Test due to an ankle injury and concussion, respectively.

“Tom is a chance, he ran on Saturday,” Rennie said. “We think he’s a good chance to be available. We’ll see how he goes over the next couple of days.

“Allan has been good. He’s been ticking off a lot of boxes over the last week and if he gets through his contact stuff, we’ll expect him to be available.”

Rennie also revealed that he is set to ring the changes to his matchday squad for the Test against the Azzurri ahead of clashes with Ireland and Wales on their five-Test tour.

Although the New Zealander would not reveal too much about his squad for the Italy Test, players like wing Mark Nawaqanitawase, playmaker Ben Donaldson and prop Sam Talakai are in line for Test debuts if selected.

Experienced duo set to start

Jake Gordon is expected to start at scrum-half as well as behemoth second-row Will Skelton, who caught the eye with an outstanding 26-minute stint as a replacement against France.

“It’s the end of a long season and we just feel if we churn the same team out five weeks in a row we’ll be out of juice come Wales,” Rennie said. “We’ll make some shifts to freshen up guys and it’ll be exciting for the guys who get to play because we reckon we’ll get plenty out of them. They’re jumping out of their skin to get an opportunity.”

READ MORE: Autumn Nations Series: Damian Penaud stunner rescues France as they edge past resilient Australia

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