Rugby: Ioane ruled out of test

Digby Ioane. Photo / Getty Images
Digby Ioane. Photo / Getty Images

Wallabies strike weapon Digby Ioane will miss Saturday night's Bledisloe Cup clash in a major blow to Australia's hopes of reversing their trans-Tasman fortunes.

Ioane was on Monday night ruled out of the Suncorp Stadium encounter with the high-flying All Blacks due to a painful knee injury.

The destructive 31-Test winger copped a bad cork on the joint against South Africa more than a fortnight ago but managed to back up the week after when he scored the match-winning try in the Wallabies' 25-19 win over Argentina in Rosario.

The problem flared up again during the long flight back from South America but Ioane is expected to recover in time to be available for next month's end-of-season tour of Europe.

His absence robs the Wallabies of their most-potent ball-runner as they attempt to end New Zealand's 16-match winning streak.

Coach Robbie Deans has the option of replacing Ioane with returning utility back Adam Ashley-Cooper or specialist wingers Dom Shipperley or Drew Mitchell.

Ashley-Cooper would prefer to stay at outside centre, which would come at the expense of Ben Tapuai, but he did play on the wing in the first Bledisloe Test in August when Australia lost 27-19.

Mitchell hasn't played since he re-injured his ankle in the 22-0 second Test loss but has made a remarkable comeback after initially being told he required surgery.

Deans has said he would be considered for an immediate return but rookie Shipperley would be the more match-hardened choice.

In positive news for the home side, No.8 Radike Samo has been cleared for selection on Tuesday after overcoming a biceps problem.

The injury-depleted Wallabies know the enormity of their task as the All Blacks haven't lost since the 25-20 defeat in their last Brisbane visit 14 months ago.

Both Ashley-Cooper and five-eighth Kurtley Beale rated the world champions a more fearsome, in-form unit than when they swept through last year's World Cup.

One more victory will equal New Zealand's own record 17-match winning streak.

Meantime, cautious Wallabies skipper James Horwill has undergone precautionary scans to ensure his rehabilitation from hamstring surgery is continuing on the right track.

Lock Horwill still holds genuine hope of returning to action in the four-Test tour of Europe.

- AAP

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