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Fears Wallaby Pat McCabe has injured his neck again

1. Marcos Ayerza (Argentina) Click for more photos

Team of the 2014 Rugby Championship - Round Two

Paul Cully picks the best XV from the second round of the 2014 Rugby Championship. Photo: Getty Images

Two Tests into a comeback against the odds, Wallabies winger Pat McCabe is staring down a third career-threatening neck injury.

McCabe took a knock to the head in the 60th minute of Australia's 51-20 loss to New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday.

Coach Ewen McKenzie said the 26-year-old would need further scans but came off immediately after feeling symptoms similar to the first two times he fractured his neck in the past two years.

All Blacks winger Julian Savea finds Pat McCabe hindering his run as Scott Fardy looks on during Saturday night's Bledisloe Cup game in Auckland.

All Blacks winger Julian Savea finds Pat McCabe hindering his run as Scott Fardy looks on during Saturday night's Bledisloe Cup game in Auckland. Photo: Getty Images

"It was fairly innocuous, he just got a knock and felt it on the top of his head," McKenzie said.

"When you have these injuries you get a feeling for the symptoms and he felt there were similarities so he came straight off.

"He had a scan last night, there's no risk or anything, the brace is purely precautionary, but it shows on the scan that there might be a recurrence of the same injury.

Walking wounded: Pat McCabe arrives back in Australia on Sunday.

Walking wounded: Pat McCabe arrives back in Australia on Sunday. Photo: Getty Images/Michele Mossop

"He'll see the surgeon this week and we'll get a diagnosis. That's a pretty disappointing outcome."

The 23-Test back made his return to international rugby against the All Blacks in Sydney coming back from two potentially career-ending neck injuries.

He broke his neck on the Wallabies' end-of-year European tour in 2012 and then again against the British and Irish Lions last year, and also survived a bad scare earlier this year.

But the Brumbies' utility made it back it career-best form in Canberra this season, earning man-of-the-match honours against the Hurricanes in March.

His provincial teammate Joe Tomane could be in the frame for Perth, where the Wallabies play South Africa on September 6.

Tomane was an original member of the Wallabies' Rugby Championship squad but bowed out with a mild hamstring strain on August 10.

He was expected to need two-to-three weeks out of the game, making a return for Perth feasible.

McCabe's injury compounds the Wallabies' woes up front, where third-choice hooker Nathan Charles injured his chest or ribs in Auckland.

After initially suspecting a torn pectoral muscle, McKenzie said there was a chance the Western Force hooker could have injured a rib.

"Rib is probably the better of the injuries, a pectoral wouldn't be a good injury to have, but we'll find out," he said.

With Tatafu Polota-Nau's rehabilitation from a knee injury taking longer than expected, and Stephen Moore out for the year, the cupboard is bare for the Wallabies in the specialist hooking position.

"He [Polota-Nau] is not far away but he hasn't progressed as quickly as we'd like, so the hooking position is putting us under pressure," McKenzie said.

"I thought James Hanson did a pretty good job coming on [for Charles in the 31st minute], he did pretty well in all the sectors he was involved in, so that was pleasing.

"But we're still stretched in that area."

Queensland rake Saia Fainga'a will most likely be re-called to the bench for the Springboks clash.

McKenzie also confirmed Test halfback Will Genia would not be ready to return to play - via the National Rugby Championship - this week, making it increasingly unlikely he will appear in a gold jersey in Perth.

Winger Henry Speight, who will be eligible to play for Australia on September 11, has also been slowed by injury. He is expected to join the Wallabies on their tour to South Africa and Argentina. 

2 comments so far

  • Unfortunate for Pat, but a blessing for the Wallabies. Despite some periods of form for the Brumbies, Pat looked really hesitant in both Bledisloe encounters.

    Date and time
    August 24, 2014, 11:30PM
    • Very unlucky and very sad.

      Although Pat is a versatile player, he should have being playing where Robbie Deans played him at Inside Center - totally wasted on the wing despite some fierce chasing and great defence.

      In the first Bledisloe match Pat could have scored in the corner, if Nathan Charles had delayed the pass by a metre oir perhaps gone himself - as it happened the pass was a tad early allowing Savia to get that extra yard of go forward to defend the line.

      As an aside Beale is not a number ten and doesn't have the defence to play at this level despite all the hype.

      Ewen McKenzie's selection policy might have been hampered by availabilty, but in basic terms he got it wrong in a number of positions. Foley at 10, McCabe at 12 Kudruani at 13

      Speight when available and Folou on the wings with Ashley Cooper at full-back.

      Date and time
      August 25, 2014, 8:06AM

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