Image: Rugby Union – Australia v Uruguay – IRB Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool A – Villa Park, Birmingham, England – 27/9/15Australia’s Will Skelton receives treatment before going off injuredAction Images via Reuters / Andrew BoyersLivepic
(Reuters) – Australia have suffered a double injury blow at the World Cup, with number eight Wycliff Palu and lock Will Skelton ruled out of the tournament days before their crunch match against England, local media reported on Tuesday.
Skelton came off the field clutching his arm early in the second half in the Wallabies’ 11-try win over Uruguay on Sunday, while Palu had suffered a “problematic” hamstring injury, coach Michael Cheika said after that match.
Lock Sam Carter will replace Skelton in the Wallabies squad, but Palu will not be replaced by another flanker, with Cheika instead opting for another hooker in James Hanson, News Ltd media reported.
Hanson, who will reinforce captain Stephen Moore and fellow hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, was to fly out from Australia on Monday.
The Australian Rugby Union was unable to confirm the reports.
Australia have won both their pool matches against Fiji and Uruguay comfortably and face their first major test on Saturday against an England side stinging from their last-gasp loss against Wales.
Palu’s injury could mean the end of the 33-year-old’s international career, with the number eight set to play in Europe after the World Cup and become ineligible for a recall.
Palu started against Uruguay but may have struggled to make the matchday 23 against England.
Cheika played two specialist openside flankers in David Pocock and Michael Hooper in his back row with success against Fiji, with Pocock taking the number eight shirt.
Ben McCalman can also play as a specialist number eight if required.
Skelton, who started against Uruguay and was a replacement against Fiji, may be harder to replace, however, with his ball-carrying ability and imposing physique offering the Wallabies another weapon in attack.
(Writing by Ian Ransom; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)
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