Tom Banks has possibly played his final Test for the Wallabies, with the Japan-bound fullback breaking his arm against England on Saturday night.
The 28-year-old wasn’t the only first-choice Wallaby to walk away from Perth on the injury list, with tight-head prop Allan Alaalatoa set to miss the second Test in Brisbane while Quade Cooper is also in doubt.
Despite the mayhem, which included a red card to Darcy Swain, the Wallabies somehow managed to win a match few thought possible at half-time.
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Alaalatoa failed his Head Injury Assessment after copping a first-half head knock. Under World Rugby’s new mandatory stand down period will be unable to play for the next 12 days.
Cooper, meanwhile, did not play a minute after pulling up lame in the warm-up.
The 34-year-old injured his calf in the minutes before the match and Dave Rennie said the playmaker could not “push off” when running.
“Allan, obviously, we’ve got to go through protocols,” Rennie said.
“Quade, we’re not sure the extent of that but he couldn’t push off the calf, so we’ll assess and have a clear idea during the week.”
But given the niggly nature of calf injuries, it’s more than likely Rennie will take a cautious approach with his star No.10 and will once again start Noah Lolesio in the position next.
He has the luxury of having James O’Connor fit and ready, having called the vastly experienced utility back onto the bench following Cooper’s late injury.
The news is worse for Banks.
“Pretty serious (injury),” Rennie confirmed. “Broken arm, I think.
“I haven’t had a check to the medics but he certainly won’t feature in the next wee-while.”
Rennie said he was “gutted” for the Japan-bound fullback, who last year missed the final six Tests of the year after breaking his right arm.
“Total commitment to the kick-off and ended up high and flipped over the back of someone, so no fault of the English.
“Gutted for Banksie because he’s worked so hard to get back and he’s had a great season and we’ll miss him.”
Banks will likely miss at least 10 weeks with the injury, meaning he will be out until at least the mid-way point of the Rugby Championship.
In the absence of Banks, Andrew Kellaway played the rest of the match at fullback and seamlessly transitioned into the role, while Wallabies selectors have also been interested to use Jordan Petaia in the role.
Kurtley Beale has returned to Australia and will likely come back into the squad for the Rugby Championship, too.
Given he is unlikely to be one of three overseas picks, with Cooper, Samu Kerevi and Marika Koroibere included for the England series, Rennie could well reluctantly wave goodbye to the likeable fullback even though the position remains open.
Should that be the case, it would be a bitter ending for Banks, who never quite nailed it with the Wallabies despite carving out an impressive career for the Brumbies.
His stunning form in Super Rugby saw foreign teams throw the kitchen sink at Banks, where he eventually signed in Japan.
Lock Swain is also unlikely to play after being red carded in the first-half, although Rennie said they would seek advice as to whether to challenge the ruling.
“Look, if it’s a headbutt then it’s clearly a red card,” he said.
“I’m not sure his intent was to headbutt him. We’ll look at the footage and we’ll get clarity if there’s an opportunity to challenge.”
In better news, Wallabies sensation Taniela Tupou is expected to return for the second Test after recovering from his own calf injury and the arrival of his first child.
“We’re very confident that Taniela will be available, which is good,” Rennie said.
Tupou, who hasn’t played since May, could come straight into the starting side, but Rennie will be pleased with James Slipper’s rock solid 50 minutes at tight-head prop.
Rennie said given the carnage at Optus Stadium he was pleased with his side’s ability to win despite the adversity.
“We’re rapping. We’re absolutely rapt with the character,” he said.
“I thought the first-half, as we talked about at half-time, we lost the collisions, both sides of the ball, and struggled to get our game going.
“Obviously we lost Quade before the whistle, Allan and Banksie and a red card to Darcie, but I think things were calm in the changing room and we had a plan.
“I thought the leadership on the run with a player missing was excellent and we showed a lot of character.”