As if the Chiefs hadn't already suffered enough, prop Aidan Ross has been ruled out for the rest of the Super Rugby season.
The 22-year-old was taken from the field after sustaining a nasty leg injury after teammate Angus Ta'avao landed on him in the Hamilton-based club's 25-13 loss to the Hurricanes in Wellington last week and was later ruled to have a broken ankle.
As a result, Ross will join fellow forwards Dominic Bird (shoulder), Fin Hoeata (shoulder), Atu Moli (quad haematoma), Mitchell Brown (knee) and winger Tim Nanai-Williams (shoulder) on the sidelines for the remainder of the campaign.
"I think it's just a bit unlucky," coach Colin Cooper said of the Chiefs' continuing injury woes. "If you look at Rossy, it was just a tackle an one of our players fell on him. It's just the way the game is – it's a fast game, it's a physical game – and, yes, our expectation of front rowers is to do more than push."
With Ross out, now all six of the props originally contracted by the Chiefs are out injured. Along with Ross and Moli being out for the rest of the campaign, Kane Hames was yet to play a match this season and was going through concussion protocols; Mitchell Graham was battling back from a leg injury; Nepo Laulala was recovering from a broken arm and Sefo Kautai was recovering from a foot injury.
As a result, former Blues prop Sam Prattley has been called into the squad ahead of the side's clash against the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday. He'll join Ta'avao, Karl Tu'inukuafe and Jeff Thwaites as the available front-rowers for the match.
Tu'inukuafe was the first cab off the ranks when Ross was injured and performed well in an extended role. The 25-year-old had not made an appearance for the team before the 65th minute of any match prior to the clash against the Hurricanes but held is own across 63 minutes of game time.
"He's a bit of an unknown," Cooper said of Tu'inukuafe. "We always knew he could scrum, and as you could see we were bringing him on to try turn scrums over. His challenge was to get fit enough to play the way the Chiefs are playing and I thought he handled himself really well."
While their prop stocks were down, the Chiefs were set to get at least one player back from injury this week with halfback Brad Weber set to return to the squad. Cooper was also hoping lock Tyler Ardron would be available.
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