Rugby: Ioane in doubt for All Blacks test

Digby Ioane is in doubt for Saturday's Bledisloe Cup clash. Photo / Getty Images
Digby Ioane is in doubt for Saturday's Bledisloe Cup clash. Photo / Getty Images

The Wallabies most potent attacking weapon, Digby Ioane, is in doubt for Saturday's Bledisloe Cup clash which is being viewed as anything but a dead-rubber by the trans-Tasman arch-rivals.

Destructive winger Ioane is struggling with a lingering knee problem following the 25-19 win over Argentina in Rosario, is a serious concern for an Australian outfit desperate to end the high-flying All Blacks' 14-month winning streak.

New Zealand head into the Brisbane encounter aiming to equal their record of 17 consecutive Test victories by continuing a roll which started after the last trans-Tasman clash in Brisbane.

That night the Wallabies triumphed 25-20 to claim the Tri-Nations but fortunes have wickedly reversed since and injury-ravaged Australia will start rank underdogs against an outfit near the peak of their powers.

Despite being without more than half of his best side, coach Robbie Deans refuses to accept it's Mission Impossible and says his players are buoyed by a "great" opportunity to upset the world champions.

"We will give it everything," he told AAP.

"We respect them as a team but we also respect what we're doing and it's something that really excites the group and we're looking forward to it.

"It's important to us.

"(New Zealand) will obviously be very proud of (their streak) but it's not a motivation for us - we've got reason enough."

The potential loss of Ioane would be a major blow as he's the line-breaking threat the All Blacks would fear most.

The 31-Test flyer - who crossed for the match-winning try against the Pumas - saw out the match in Rosario but pulled up sore after carrying severe bruising into the game from a heavy knock in the 31-8 loss to South Africa the week before.

Ioane will be fully assessed Monday and the report could determine where stalwart utility Adam Ashley-Cooper returns to the backline after overcoming his sickening head knock against the Springboks.

Ashley-Cooper's availability makes for a welcome selection dilemma as rookie trio Ben Tapuai, Nick Cummins and Mike Harris all performed strongly against the Pumas.

Forever a Mr Fix-It, Ashley-Cooper would prefer to stay at outside centre - which would come at the expense of Tapuai - but did play both wing and fullback in the opening two Bledisloe losses - 27-19 in Sydney and 22-0 in Auckland.

"We're waiting to hear on Digby and then we'll go from there once it comes clear," Deans said.

Dom Shipperley and the returning Drew Mitchell (ankle) would also be in the frame to start if Ioane fails to recover.

Like the unexpected prospect of rushing back Mitchell, Deans did not rule out selecting No.8 Wycliff Palu who last played in the three-Test whitewash of Wales in June.

- AAP

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