Wallabies call in 3 to cover for injured players
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Veteran ACT Brumbies flanker George Smith was among three players called up Sunday to join the injury-hit Wallabies ahead of next Saturday’s must-win second test against the British and Irish Lions.
Smith, who has played 110 tests for Australia, his Brumbies teammate Jesse Mogg and Queensland center Ben Tapuai were added to the squad following Saturday’s 23-21 loss at Brisbane.
The teams will play a third test on July 9 in Sydney.
Injuries during the first test placed inside center Pat McCabe (neck), winger Digby Ioane (shoulder), center Adam Ashley-Cooper (shoulder) and fullback Berrick Barnes (head injury) in doubt for Melbourne.
The status of inside center Christian Leali’ifano, who was knocked out in the opening tackle of the night, will also be reviewed in the next two days.
However, Australia received better news late Sunday when a citing against captain James Horwill for stamping or trampling on Lions lock Alun-Wyn Jones in the first three minutes of the match was dismissed. The Wallabies skipper appeared at a judicial hearing in Melbourne and could have been suspended for the second test if found guilty.
Still missing from any of coach Robbie Deans’ replacement plans is Queensland flyhalf Quade Cooper, who ran afoul of the coach last year with criticisms of the team and his comments about it having a “toxic” environment.
Cooper was fined, and although Deans has said he bears no grudges against Cooper, and suggested the Reds playmaker might be added in the event of injuries, that now seems to be unlikely.
Tapuai, 24, who last appeared for Australia on last year’s late-season tour of Europe, can play both inside and outside center and has played seven tests for the Wallabies since debuting against Wales in 2011. Six of those matches came last year.
Mogg has not played a test, but was involved in the Wallabies’ preliminary squad last year after a rookie Super Rugby season which saw him appear in all but two of the matches for the Brumbies.
The 24-year-old fullback has helped the Brumbies to the top of the Australian conference and overall Super Rugby lead.
Smith, who returned to Australia this year from Japan on a short-term contract with the Brumbies, last represented Australia against Wales in Cardiff in 2009 during a match the Wallabies won 33-12.
That 110th test saw him become the country’s most-capped forward, although he has since been overtaken by lock Nathan Sharpe, who retired last year with 116 appearances.
Four years after his last test, Smith is still Australia’s third most-capped player behind his former Brumbies and Wallabies captain George Gregan, who appeared in 139 tests.
Smith, who was based with Japanese club Suntory, was cleared by the Australian Rugby Union to play in the Lions series after extending his contract with the Brumbies through until the end of the Super Rugby competition.
However a knee injury sustained during the Brumbies’ loss to the New South Wales Waratahs in Sydney last month put the hopes of a test return on hold while he underwent rehabilitation.