Quinn Tupaea has been ruled out for nine months due to a knee injury he sustained following a cleanout from Darcy Swain in New Zealand’s clash against Australia in Melbourne earlier this month.
It was initially thought that Tupaea ruptured his medial cruciate ligament after Swain targeted his leg as the centre attempted to turn over the ball during the first Bledisloe Cup Test which the All Blacks won 39-37.
However, the All Blacks announced on Thursday that new scans revealed “more extensive damage” to Tupaea’s anterior cruciate ligament which would require surgery.
The injury means the 23-year-old will miss the Chiefs’ 2023 Super Rugby Pacific campaign and will be in a fitness race ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup in France.
Big blow for All Blacks
“We’ve got a big issue with it,” said All Blacks coach Ian Foster of the incident after the Test.
“We’ve got a player who’s putting [Tupaea] out for nine months and you’re not allowed to target legs on the side at a cleanout past the ball, so the rules are pretty clear.”
Tupaea’s team-mates Beauden Barrett and Aaron Smith were equally frustrated when questioned on the incident in the aftermath to the Rugby Championship fixture.
“I feel for Quinn. He basically didn’t see it coming, he was a sitting duck. It was a bit of a free shot. We don’t like to see these sorts of injuries,” said Barrett.
Smith agreed with his half-back partner and insisted that Swain could have avoided making contact with Tupaea.
“Injuries happen in rugby but some can be controlled,” he said.
Swain was yellow carded for his indiscretion but was cited after the match and suspended for six weeks. His suspension includes matches on the Australia A tour to Japan and he will also miss three Tests on the Wallabies’ northern hemisphere tour which starts in October.