Did Dave Rennie break a mirror while walking under a ladder after being startled by a black cat? How else do you explain the staggering toll of fallen Wallabies this season now numbering 16 and counting?
Reece Hodge might be Rennie’s Mr. Fixit, but even Bob the Builder would shake his head and turn his back on the wreckage of the Kiwi coach’s squad just one game into the Rugby Championship.
Last week Rennie refused to get down about his casualty ward, or accept he was the victim of rotten luck. That was after Samu Kerevi’s ACL but before his captain Michael Hooper left for home, star No.10 Quade Cooper suffered a ruptured Achilles, Allan Alaalatoa suffered a family bereavement and Hunter Paisami suffered a head knock.
“Every squad goes through periods where they are unlucky,” said Hodge on Wednesday.
“Some teams get lucky through periods and they win, but the best teams win when they are going through periods that are quite tough.
“We have gone through one over the last two or three months but the fact we are developing great depth in the squad, and the next-man-up mentality we are developing, that will go a long way to hopefully getting performances together that we can be proud of.”
There could be one piece of good news for Rennie this week with Rory Arnold set to overcome a calf injury to take his place in the second Test against Argentina but the Wallabies casualty ward remains full to the brim.
Here’s a list of the Wallabies missing from action (will be updated through the TRC)
Allan Alaalatoa (personal reasons): The Brumbies skipper left the Argentina tour on Wednesday after suffering a family bereavement. He will likely be ready to play against the Springboks.
Tom Banks (broken arm): Banks fell heavily trying to claim a Nic White high kick in the first Test in Perth. It continued a wretched run after a similar injury a year earlier against South Africa and a fractured face bone during Super Rugby.
“It’s pretty serious,” said Rennie said of Banks’ latest injury. “I’m gutted for Banksy, because he’s worked so hard to get back. He’s had a great season. We’ll miss him.”
The injury could spell the end of Banks’ Wallabies career, with him set to resume playing in Japan next season, although he will be hopeful of picking up a foreign spot for some games into the World Cup.
Angus Bell (toe): Bell suffered his toe injury in the third Test against England in Sydney and was replaced in the squad for Argentina by Matt Gibbon. He will be hopeful of a return later in TRC.
Quade Cooper (Achilles): Having missed the England series due to a calf strain in the warm up in Perth, Cooper was finding a groove in Mendoza before struck down by a sniper. Achilles injuries usually take a good 9-12 months to heal. He will be 35 and racing time to play in the Wallabies pre-RWC Tests. While Cooper has already shown he’s committed to recovery, a strong showing by Noah Lolesio over the rest of this year could end Cooper’s Wallabies comeback.
Ned Hanigan (knee): The Waratahs forward was restored to the Wallabies squad after returning from Japan and then recalled from the Australia A team as an injury cover in the England series. But just as soon as he returned he required knee surgery.
Michael Hooper (personal reasons): The Australian skipper withdrew from the Argentina tour ahead of the first game to return home after struggling with what he called “mindset” issues. Nic White said Hooper had been in touch with team members but there was no indication given as to when he might return, if he does at all.
Harry Johnson-Holmes (Achilles): Called in from the Australia A team in the wake of other injuries, HJH went down with an Achilles rupture that will sideline him for the rest of this season and potentially the start of Super Rugby 2023.
Andrew Kellaway (hamstring): Kellaway suffered hamstring damage during training ahead of the second Test against England and although the Wallabies described the issue as “not severe” at the time the strain has kept him out for a month. He is hopeful of returning to play the Springboks later this month.
Samu Kerevi (knee): Of all the back luck that’s hit Rennie, this could be the unluckiest. Kerevi was allowed to join up with the Commonwealth Games team and suffered an ACL injury in a pool game against Kenya. He will be out for the rest of the year but the Japan-based star should recover in time to be one of the first picked for France next year. Rennie said he had no regrets about letting Kerevi go to the Games.
Cadeyrn Neville (knee): Neville made a long awaited debut at 33 against England and looked assured and of the requisite class, only for his season to be crushed by a knee injury. It was reported as being a medial collateral ligament injury, which means he is an outside chance of making the Spring Tour.
Hunter Paisami (concussion): Fox Sports reported that Paisami suffered a head knock in training ahead of the second Test against Argentina was was due to undergo a mandatory stand down.
Izaia Perese (knee): Perese had an excellent Super Rugby campaign and was starting to make strides in the international arena but had a miserable time of it in Brisbane. He suffered an early yellow card but matters got much worse when he came back on the paddock, getting crunched in a tackle and suffering a patella tendon rupture that could keep him out for nine to 12 months.
Dave Porecki (concussion): The Waratahs hooker made his debut against England and had quickly become first choice for Rennie. But a concussion suffered during training in Argentina saw him fly home. He should be recovered in time to face South Africa.
Izack Rodda (foot): There is a fair bit of mystery surrounding Rodda and the foot injury that he has described as bone bruising. On June 1 Rodda declared he would be fit to face England, and the injury was much better than feared. Ten days later Rennie said the injury was worse than expected, adding: “He could be out for as much as three months.” That would put Rodda back in contention for the All Blacks Tests, although there hasn’t been an update reported recently.
Scott Sio (shoulder): Sio came off with a shoulder injury in the second Test against England and wasn’t able to make the Argentina tour. No timeline for his recovery has been reported.
Lachie Swinton (shoulder): Swinton hasn’t played since the final round of Super Rugby because of nerve damage in his shoulder. He has been out for more almost four months. “The big point is I’m not playing and out there doing what I love doing,” he said ahead of the England series.
“For me, not doing that does break me a lot. I’m trying to focus and channel my energy into developing myself athletically and in other aspects, and I think that’s going really well. Whenever this comes right, I’m going to be a better player for it.”
Rugby – The Roar