Wallabies hooker curse strikes again

Date published: September 14 2014

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The Wallabies' hooker woes intensified with news that Tatafu Polota-Nau is set to miss the rest of the season and may require ankle surgery.

The Wallabies' hooker woes intensified on Sunday with news that Tatafu Polota-Nau is set to miss the rest of the season and may require ankle surgery.

Scans have shown Polota-Nau suffered a syndesmosis (high ankle sprain) injury in the first half of Saturday's 32-25 Rugby Championship win over Argentina on the Gold Coast and he faces two months on the sidelines.

It is a major blow for both Australia and the injury-plagued Waratahs hooker, who was making his return from a knee ligament tear in his 50th Test match.

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie, who is also missing Stephen Moore and Nathan Charles for the rest of the year, will again be forced to rely on fourth-string hooker James Hanson for the September 27 Rugby Championship Test with South Africa in Cape Town.

McKenzie said he will take three hookers on the two-Test tour of South Africa and Argentina and hopes to have Waratahs reserve Tolu Latu back from a broken arm to vie for a place with Saia Faingaa and Josh Mann-Rea.

In a double blow from the desperate win over the Pumas, winger Peter Betham is also in serious doubt for November's European tour after reinjuring his broken foot.

Scans have detected a fracture but team officials said it is unclear how bad the damage is to Betham, who scored his first Test try in the Wallabies' win.

Betham joins Henry Speight (hamstring) on the sidelines but experienced utility Adam Ashley-Cooper is expected back from a neck problem to play against the Springboks while Joe Tomane (hamstring) is also now fit again.

Australia's wing depth has been tested almost as much as hooker, with Pat McCabe (retired), Chris Feauai-Sautia (shoulder), Nick Cummins (Japan club rugby), James O'Connor (France) also unavailable.

“The winger-hooker curse continues,” said McKenzie.

“We get them back and then they disappear again.”

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