29 Aug 2014

Wallabies dig deep after injuries

12:15 pm on 29 August 2014

The Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie concedes he's down to bare bones in some departments after losing hooker Nathan Charles to a season-ending injury and back Pat McCabe to a neck fracture that looks like ending his rugby career.

The pair were both injured in the 51-20 Bledisloe Cup defeat to the All Blacks in Auckland last weekend, forcing McKenzie to name a 30-man squad for next week's test against South Africa in Perth without them.

Wallabies back Pat McCabe

Wallabies back Pat McCabe Photo: PHOTOSPORT

McCabe fractured his neck for the third time in the match and his Super Rugby coach Stephen Larkham says the 26-year-old is retiring from rugby.

Charles, who got his chance after injuries to Stephen Moore and Tatafu Polota-Nau, was ruled out for the rest of the season with a pectoral tear he sustained at Eden Park.

Uncapped centre Kyle Godwin, scheduled to return this weekend after four months in the sidelines, was brought in to the squad to bolster the backline along with 29-test hooker Saia Faingaa, who is likely to back up James Hanson in Perth.

Wallabies beaten by All Blacks, Eden Park, 2014

Wallabies beaten by All Blacks, Eden Park, 2014 Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Polota-Nau, who suffered a knee injury in the Super Rugby final, was also included in the squad but will definitely not play the Springboks and is an outside chance to face Argentina on the Gold Coast the following week.

McKenzie says they're digging deep in the hooking area, next week's a stretch but the week after is looking more positive.

McKenzie says it's hugely disappointing for Charles to suffer another serious injury after he missed much of the 2013 season because of a knee problem.

The versatile and pacy Godwin would probably have already made his Test debut had he not suffered from a string of injuries over the last couple of years.

The 22-year-old missed the back end of the Super Rugby season for the Western Force because of a knee injury and is scheduled to make his return in the National Rugby Championship this weekend.

Adam Ashley-Cooper is almost certain to start against the Springboks but his listing in the squad as one of four "back three" players indicated to some that he might not retain his position at outside centre.