Brisbane, Australia – Injured skipper James Horwill has been ruled out of Saturday's Rugby Championship Test against South Africa in a major setback for Australia's chances of ending a three-Test losing streak.
The Australian Rugby Union on Thursday said Horwill strained his left hamstring in a training run on Tuesday. Kane Douglas will replace him in the second row, Ben McCalman was added to the bench as cover, and scrumhalf Will Genia will take over the captaincy.
Australia lost their first two matches to world champion New Zealand at the start of the Rugby Championship and have just one win in five Tests, including the 2-1 series loss to the British and Irish Lions.
The Wallabies have never lost to South Africa at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, venue for Saturday's match, but the absence of Horwill leaves a big hole in the forward pack in terms of experience and physical presence.
“It's extremely disappointing to lose James but after discussions with medical staff we felt it was important not to risk further injury when he isn't ready,” Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said. “Scans revealed his injury was on the lower-end in terms of severity and we expect him to be back to full fitness when we embark on our two-game tour of South Africa and Argentina in a few weeks.”
Genia has filled in as Australia captain three times, including a 26-19 win over South Africa in Perth last year.
“Will is a proven leader and has had plenty of success as captain for the Queensland Reds and also for Australia,” Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said. “He is a player that thrives with the added responsibility and he has always stepped up when given the opportunity to lead. I'm sure this will bring the best out of him.” – Sapa-AP