All Blacks centre Quinn Tupaea will be out for up to nine months after it was revealed the injury he suffered against the Wallabies in Melbourne was worse than originally thought.
The All Blacks on Thursday said that further scans had confirmed an ACL tear and that Tupaea would now require surgery that has put his World Cup hopes in jeopardy.
The news comes a week after Wallabies lock Darcy Swain was handed a six-week ban for the ugly incident, a suspension many feel was not long enough given the extent of Tupaea’s injury.
Swain attacked Tupaea’s left leg during the first half of Australia’s dramatic 39-37 loss at Marvel Stadium, earning himself a yellow card in the process. That was later determined to have met the red-card threshold for dangerous play, from which a SANZAAR judiciary panel handed down its six-week suspension.
When asked about the incident ahead of Bledisloe II, won 40-14 by New Zealand in Auckland, All Blacks coach Ian Foster said that he was “satisfied” with the outcome. But his position may well have changed after Tupaea’s prognosis worsened, which will leave the centre with precious little time to push his case for World Cup selection.
Jordie Barrett was the All Blacks’ standout performer in Auckland in the absence of Tupaea and David Havili, who missed the clash with concussion protocols, the Hurricanes utility a dominant force in both attack and defence.
While Foster had shown little interest in shifting Barrett into the midfield before last week’s Test, he may well be forced to continue him in the role given Tupaea’s long layoff and the fact he has Barrett’s older brother, Beauden, and Will Jordan available to play in the No. 15 jersey.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck looms as another option amid rumours the former NRL star could make a return to rugby league with incoming franchise the Dolphins.
Swain, meanwhile, will be available to return for the Wallabies for the third Test of the team’s spring tour after Rugby Australia was successful in its bid to have Australia A games included in his ban.
Swain had been named in the Australia A squad the morning of his judiciary appearance, with Wallabies coach Dave Rennie insisting it had always been the plan for players who had seen little action during the Rugby Championship to head to Japan for the three-match series.
While Swain would only be available for the Tests against Italy, Ireland and Wales, the Wallabies are still expect to include him in their spring tour squad such is their lack of depth at lock.