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Connolly plan to halt injury carnage

Ben Alexander is the latest injury blow for the Wallabies.

Ben Alexander is the latest injury blow for the Wallabies. Photo: Getty Images

Former Wallabies coach John Connolly has implored the ARU to extend Australia's Super Rugby squads to prevent the top players from being ''beat up'' during a 12-month campaign.

ACT Brumbies prop Ben Alexander became the latest victim of the Wallabies injury curse yesterday when he was ruled out of tomorrow night's Bledisloe Cup clash at Suncorp Stadium.

Alexander has been battling a wrist problem and he joins a long list of established Wallabies already on the sideline, including Stephen Moore, David Pocock, James Horwill and Will Genia.

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has used 38 players in 10 Tests this year.

The bulk of the Wallabies squad has had minimal time to rest over the past two years and the international season will continue with a spring tour to Europe next month.

The extended Super Rugby campaign has increased the workload on Australia's top players and the injury toll continues to grow.

Connolly urged the ARU to expand the Super Rugby squads from 30 to 35 with Extended Player Squad and Academy players on top of that to help cope with the growing rugby schedule.

''The injuries are wide ranging. I don't think you can pinpoint one thing, so it's no one's fault.

''I don't think it's a complete disaster because players have stepped up. I can see Super squads being enlarged to 35 and I can see some players being rested [to cope with the workload].

''[The ARU] has to work with the states, moving forward, one thing you can't do is belt these players around, especially the top 15.

''If they play all the time, they get beat up.''

James Slipper has been called into the starting side to replace Alexander, with Sekope Kepu joining the bench.

Also Saia Faingaa broke his hand earlier this week, and James Hanson was added to the bench as the back-up hooker.

With the likes of Genia, Pocock, Moore, Quade Cooper, James O'Connor and Digby Ioane out of action, fourth-choice captain Nathan Sharpe is the only player who has started all 10 Tests.

Hanson is poised to become the 12th new cap this year if he is used from the bench.

Connolly said the injuries should be treated as individual cases when Deans selects his touring party for the four-game trip to Europe.

Brumbies recruit Pocock is unsure whether he will be fit, while Moore is on track to make a return.

''The manageable amount of games for a player to stay at his peak is about 25-30. You always play with bumps and bruises,'' Connolly said.

''It's hard to stay in that range when you play 15 Tests a year and the pressure is on all the time.''

The injury woes make preparations for the third Bledisloe Cup match even tougher as the Wallabies search for their first win against New Zealand this year.

The World Cup champion All Blacks are aiming for a 17th straight victory.

A look at the Australian bench highlights the fitness struggles. Prop Kepu joins Waratahs teammate Drew Mitchell for their first game since August, while the remaining five reserves boast fewer than 20 caps between them.

Bookmakers give the Wallabies ($5.75 underdogs) little hope at Suncorp Stadium, especially since the All Blacks have hit their straps in the past month after securing the Bledisloe Cup with 27-19 and 22-0 wins in August.

But Slipper hit the nail on the head when he assessed that an upset against the full-strength world champions would take the Wallabies from the outhouse to the penthouse.

''It would mean everything,'' he said. ''I don't want to get too far down the track, but to beat the All Blacks any time [is huge]. I think we're the only team to do it in the last two years.'' with AAP

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
WAL 12 vs RSA 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
 
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