Rugby World Cup: Samo to play on wing?

Radike Samo. Photo / Getty Images
Radike Samo. Photo / Getty Images

The injury crisis in Australia's camp may force veteran back-rower Radike Samo to play on the wing in their final pool game against Russia this weekend.

The Wallabies' injury concerns have eased somewhat, but Samo, who filled in out wide when injuries decimated Australia's backline against the USA, may still be required to start on the wing against one of the group minnows in Nelson.

Just like last week against the US, Deans only has 24 fit players to pick from, although centre Anthony Faingaa could yet be available as well if he meets the IRB's strict concussion guidelines.

Just to be safe, given the squad's diminishing backline stocks, the Wallabies will wait until after the Russia game before deciding on a replacement for Wycliff Palu, who has returned home with a hamstring injury.

Flankers Matt Hodgson and Beau Robinson and midfielders Ben Tapuai and 92-Test discard Matt Giteau remain the most likely options.

First and foremost, Deans and assistants Jim Williams and David Nucifora must settle on a starting XV and seven reserves to face Russia.

With fullback Kurtley Beale (hamstring) being rested as a precaution and winger Digby Ioane (thumb) not due back until the quarter-finals, outside backs are scarce.

Samo, who began his Super Rugby career with the Brumbies on the wing more than a decade ago before moving into the forwards, showed sufficient pace to bag a try against the USA and, consequently, found himself on the wing for Australia's first training session of the week on Tuesday.

James O'Connor, returning from a hamstring strain, looks set to start at fullback, with Drew Mitchell staying on the left wing and Adam Ashley-Cooper and Berrick Barnes to pair up in the centres.

Nick Phipps, who trained at halfback on Tuesday, or Luke Burgess, will partner Quade Cooper in the halves, allowing Deans to keep Will Genia in cotton wool.

With Samo on the wing and Palu gone, Scott Higginbotham is likely to be handed the No.8 jumper after recovering from a back injury, while skipper James Horwill could be asked to play at blindside flanker.

Whether Ben McCalman gets another crack at No.7 depends on whether Deans chooses to risk David Pocock, who is eager to return from his back injury.

Nathan Sharpe and Rob Simmons will probably form the second row, while James Slipper, Saia Faingaa, after recovering from the flu, and Sekope Kepu are favoured to start in the front row.

Anthony Faingaa was knocked cold in the last tackle of the game against the USA, but isn't totally out of the running this week.

"Ant has recovered remarkably well,'' Deans said.

"He's going through all the IRB concussion protocols and it appears he could even be available to us this weekend, but that will be resolved during the week.''

- AAP

Stats provided by

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf01 at 26 Dec 2014 15:24:55 Processing Time: 463ms