The Wallabies have suffered a significant blow ahead of the Tri- Nations after it was reported that playmaker Matt To’omua will miss the tournament through injury.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, To’omua is expected to be out for the rest of the year after he suffered a severe groin injury during the Wallabies’ loss to the All Blacks in the second Bledisloe Cup match on Sunday.
The 30-year-old pulled up after clearing the ball from a kick-off and, despite trying to play through the injury, he ultimately had to be substituted towards the end of the first half.
To’omua has formed a key playmaking axis with flyhalf James O’Connor under new Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie. His absence from the starting lineup will cause an untimely shift in the Wallabies’ plans just a couple of weeks away from their first match of the Tri-Nations and the third of the Bledisloe Cup Tests against the All Blacks in Sydney on 31 October.
Wallabies rookie Hunter Paisami was shifted to inside centre and formed a youthful midfield pairing with 20-year-old Jordan Petaia after To’omua was replaced this past Sunday.
However, that is just one option available to Rennie and it was notable that he mentioned another uncapped prospect in Irae Simone during Sunday’s post-match media conference.
‘I think Hunter’s going great. A young man who wasn’t even sure he’d play Super Rugby at the start of the year, so he’s started the first two Tests and I thought he made a pretty good fist of moving into 12.
‘We do have some pretty good options, who didn’t play today [Sunday] as well, Irae Simone being one fella who has spent a bit of time over here in New Zealand – a big part of the Brumbies set-up – so we do have some options, but I thought Hunter was strong.’
The 25-year-old Simone is a far more direct option, given that he weighs in at around 105kg and is just under 2m tall.
However, if Rennie wants to replicate the dual playmaker axis that came with having To’omua – who started his career at flyhalf – in midfield, he may opt to play another rookie in Brumbies youngster Noah Lolesio.
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