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IRB hands out extraordinary suspension to Wallaby

Date

A good disciplinary record saved Rob Simmons from a 14-week ban after his lifting tackle on breakaway Yannick Nyanga in last Saturday's Test against France was deemed by IRB to be on the "high end" of the scale.

Hot water ... Rob Simmons's tackle on Yannick Nyanga.

Hot water ... Rob Simmons's tackle on Yannick Nyanga. Photo: AP

LONDON: The Wallabies spring tour has taken a double hit overnight with centre Pat McCabe ruled out of the Test against England and lock Rob Simmons banned for eight weeks.

McCabe reported stiffness in his neck after the Wallabies loss to France last week, which worsened in training and requires further scans.

Coach Robbie Deans said the "best case scenario" was a one-match rest for the centre, who was one of the few consistent presences in the back line recently.

The Wallabies used this tackle by France winger Wesley Fofana on Adam Ashley-Cooper as evidence.

The Wallabies used this tackle by France winger Wesley Fofana on Adam Ashley-Cooper as evidence. Photo: AFP

His loss will force yet another reshuffle, with Mike Harris or Ben Tapuai possible replacements. In the latter instance, Adam Ashley-Cooper could move to outside centre, with Berrick Barnes starting at fullback and Digby Ioane and Nick Cummins on the wings.

Deans is due to name the side to face England on Thursday morning local time.

There is also a looming locks crisis in the Wallabies after the IRB handed Reds lock Simmons an eight-week ban for a lifting tackle on France flanker Yannick Nyanga. Deans said the ARU had not decided whether it would appeal.

"We're disappointed in the decision but I haven't had the opportunity to read the decision yet and obviously we'll do that before we settle on [whether] that's the end of the matter or not," he said.

In its decision, the IRB judicial officer deemed Simmons's tackle to be at the "high end" of the scale, so gave an entry point of 12 weeks. Two weeks was added as a "deterrent" before six weeks was taken off the penalty for Simmons's "exemplary previous disciplinary record".

With a second lock, Kane Douglas, already ruled out of Saturday's Test with a knee injury, Simmons's suspension increases the likelihood that Scott Higginbotham will be called into the squad following the end of his two-Test ban this weekend.

"We've maintained contact with Scotty, he continues to train and from the outset was hopeful that it wouldn't be the end of his tour prospects," Deans said.

"He's obviously a bloke who would have been here if he hadn't had that setback so he's high on our list."

Deans did not rule out calling for two replacements but said it would hinge on Douglas's recovery.

"If the medical staff believe it's marginal that he'll be available to us next week we'll probably have to act," he said.

For Saturday's Test, versatile forward Dave Dennis, who is likely to start in the back row, could be moved to lock to replace Sitaleki Timani or Nathan Sharpe, should the need arise, with Radike Samo to come off the bench at blindside.

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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
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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
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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
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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
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RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
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