Wary Wallabies three captains down
Will Genia is treated for an injury during the Rugby Championship match against South Africa. Photo: Getty Images
THE Wallabies are pondering whether it is wise to announce officially another captain after Will Genia became their third Test skipper in a row to suffer a season-ending injury.
As Wallabies centre Adam Ashley-Cooper said yesterday: ''I certainly won't be putting my hand up for the captaincy. It's a curse.''
Genia will be sidelined for at least six months after damaging his right knee at virtually the same time that prop Ben Alexander scored the match-winning try that enabled the Wallabies to overhaul South Africa 26-19 at Subiaco Oval on Saturday night.
Genia twisted his knee when he landed after taking a high ball in the 71st minute. It twisted again when he was then hit in the tackle, forcing him to beckon immediately for medical attention.
''I heard three cracks … I'm gutted, really disappointed. But, at the same time, with the Test victory, the feeling is bittersweet,'' Genia said yesterday.
Genia follows original Test captain James Horwill and his replacement, David Pocock, to the sidelines for a long period. Now the Wallabies have no one left of their original 2012 leadership group - Horwill, Pocock, Genia, Pat McCabe and James O'Connor.
And Wallabies coach Robbie Deans is in no rush to name a new leadership contingent because of the fear it will further jinx a group that has been decimated by injuries this season.
''I don't think we will have a formal leader any more. We might just have someone who leads the group out the tunnel, and then have a meeting involving a few good men on Monday morning to discuss the week,'' he said.
Nick Phipps will take over the halfback duties against Argentina on the Gold Coast on Saturday night, while the feisty Western Force No. 9 Brett Sheehan has been called in to be his backup. It will be no surprise if Sheehan gets plenty of game time against the Pumas as his combative nature would be ideal against this confrontational opponent.
A new second rower will also be required as Sitaleki Timani is expected to be unavailable after suffering a minor hamstring strain. The most likely scenario is that Rob Simmons will move into the starting XV, with Deans explaining yesterday it was unlikely Dave Dennis would be transferred from the back row to cover the vacant lock spot.
Timani is almost as big a loss as Genia, as the Waratahs second rower easily has been the team's most consistent performer in the past three Tests. Deans knows he will miss Timani's aggression and attention to detail.
Although he was delighted his team repeatedly repelled the Springboks in the final 20 minutes, Deans was unimpressed they earlier had not followed instructions, and kept chip-kicking away possession
''Our kicking wasn't always the sharpest,'' Deans said. ''It all revolves around when you kick, why you're kicking. There's no doubt we made our job more difficult last night. Some of our kicking has been the result of anxiety.''
Ashley-Cooper knows exactly what his coach is talking about.
''We gave the South Africans too much easy ball with our general kicking,'' Ashley-Cooper said. ''Last night, there were times we did not execute the kick well enough.''