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Scrum concerns for Australia ahead of Dunedin Test

Scrum concerns for Australia ahead of Dunedin Test

All BlacksAugust 4, 2023

Australia could be caught between a rock and a hard place with their scrum in the Bledisloe Cup Test against the All Blacks in Dunedin on Saturday afternoon.

With the Bledisloe Cup stowed away for the 21st consecutive season, the All Blacks have the advantage of supplementing their scrum strength by giving opportunities to squad members ahead of their Rugby World Cup campaign.

Australia, on the other hand, is having to cope with injury frustrations after tighthead leader Allan Alaalatoa suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury and replacement Taniela Tupou, returning from an Achilles injury that kept him out of rugby until a few weeks ago, also suffered a rib injury in the Melbourne Test.

Wallabies scrum coach Neal Hatley said Tupou participated in Wednesday's Dunedin training.

"He's recovered reasonably well, but he's come off a really big Achilles injury. We're not going to just throw him back in. We'll make sure that if he's right, he'll play it, and if not, someone else will get a go."

Should he not play, James Slipper could move from the loosehead to tighthead prop allowing Angus Bell to continue where he started in Melbourne.

Also possible in the tighthead role are Pone Fa'amausili and Zane Nonggorr. Nonggorr had a tough debut at the hands of South Africa last month in Pretoria.

"For Zane, and one or two of those guys, Pretoria was a tough day, but they're going to be much better for it.

"To go to South Africa and play in Pretoria, and then come to New Zealand against a good New Zealand side, you find out a lot about some of these young men in this situation. So, if Taniela doesn't go, it's a great opportunity for someone else.

"The best way to do it is going through it. It's going to be a tough learning school for some of them."

Hatley said replacing a player with Allaalatoa's experience was difficult. His Achilles tendon injury was a blow, especially having got himself into good shape.

However, his absence provided opportunities for others.

With leadership stocks depleting, they have taken a cautious approach with co-captain and flanker Michael Hooper. His calf injury against Argentina three weeks ago was considered minor, but it has been slow to heal. The situation is concerning enough for coach Eddie Jones to say last weekend that Hooper was not assured of a World Cup place.

Your 23 to take the field on Saturday afternoon 🖤

📺 Watch live on @skysportnz from 2:35pm NZT#NZLvAUS pic.twitter.com/6CAIerKoke

— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) August 3, 2023

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