Rugby Australia will investigate the Wallabies’ “record” injury toll as part of its season-ending review, as Dave Rennie’s team limps into Saturday’s last test against Wales.
Seven Wallabies players have been ruled out of the Cardiff battle, with stalwart flanker Michael Hooper failing a concussion test and poised to join the six who were already sent home following Ireland’s humiliating defeat.
These are only a subset of the total injuries reported this season, which has included long-term setbacks for first-choice players such as flyhalf Quade Cooper, Taniela Tupou, and Samu Kerevi.
With fullback Tom Banks and centre Lalakai Foketi ruled out earlier in the northern hemisphere tour, Rennie and his staff will be praying no injuries occur against the Welsh.
“It certainly has been unprecedented,” Rugby Australia boss Andy Marinos said in comments published by the Sydney Morning Herald on Thursday.
“The part for me that is puzzling, as much as it is concerning, is just the innocuous nature of some of these injuries. It has all come as a surprise.”
Cooper, prop Harry Johnson-Holmes and loose forward Rob Leota are all on the long-term injury list after rupturing Achilles tendons, a relatively rare injury.
Scans are expected to confirm prop Tupou also has a ruptured Achilles after breaking down against Ireland.
“Four Achilles tendons in one season is quite alarming, so absolutely there is going to be a review,” said Marinos.
“Rest assured, it is a concern to all of us.
“We have a World Cup looming and a big Super Rugby season starting up next year, we certainly want all of these guys back on their feet.”
The Wallabies have yet to replace two strength and conditioning coaches who left this year, which Marinos said had been a disruption.
“It is a factor. I don’t think it is an overarching contributor,” he added.
Australia have lost nine out of 13 tests this season, including a first ever loss to Italy, heaping pressure on Rennie ahead of next year’s World Cup in France.
The New Zealander’s future as head coach is expected to be considered in the season-ending review.