Tue, Aug 11, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Mortlock may miss rest of Tri-Nations with knee injury

REUTERS , MELBOURNE

Australia captain Stirling Mortlock may be sidelined for the remainder of the Tri-Nations campaign after sustaining a serious knee injury during the Wallabies’ 29-17 loss to South Africa on Saturday.

The 32-year-old center left the Newlands on crutches midway through the match. A post-game X-ray ruled out a break but it was feared he may have torn cartilage in his knee, Australian media said yesterday.

Mortlock was expected to have scans yester after returning to Sydney, the Australian newspaper said.

Mortlock’s injury is a major blow for the Wallabies’ campaign, which has opened with two straight losses including a narrow defeat to New Zealand last month.

With Mortlock almost certain to miss the Wallabies’ next clash against the All Blacks in Sydney on Aug. 22, the door may be open for James O’Connor to start at fullback, after the youngster impressed against the Springboks at the weekend.

“James O’Connor’s performance was great ... he’s shown he’s ready and he will continue to get better,” Australia coach Robbie Deans told Australian media.

Deans may also be tempted to bring blindside flanker Rocky Elsom, who has returned to training after a knee injury, back into the side to strengthen the back row after Wycliff Palu had a quiet night at Newlands.

“He’s been working hard, and even though he hasn’t played club football, that’s not such a big deal because we can give them the work which is required,” Deans said.

“It will only be an issue if there is a confidence issue. I don’t think that will be the case.”

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