Wallabies' Kuridrani on track for Fiji, Petaia still weeks away
TOKYO – Tevita Kuridrani is on track to be fit for Australia's Rugby World Cup opener against Fiji but fellow centre Jordan Petaia may not be available until their third group match against Uruguay, coach Michael Cheika said on Wednesday.
Both players are battling hamstring strains but Petaia's injury needed a longer recovery and could see the uncapped teenager ruled out of the second match against Pool D rivals Wales, Cheika said at training in Odawara, Japan.
"I think Tevita is running nearly back at full pace so I'm hopeful he's going to be right for selection next weekend," Cheika told local reporters.
"Our target for Jordan is a couple of weeks later. If not Wales, the one after but we're hopeful it will be for Wales."
Twice World Cup winners Australia play Fiji in Sapporo on Sept. 21 before meeting Wales in Tokyo eight days later and Uruguay on Oct. 5.
They play their last group match against Georgia on Oct. 11.
Fiji-born Kuridrani and Petaia were sidelined for the Wallabies' last World Cup warmup, a hard-fought 34-15 win over Samoa in Sydney on Saturday.
Veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper started outside utility Matt Toomua in the centres against the Samoans but Cheika is likely to have James O'Connor and Samu Kerevi in his starting midfield against Fiji.
O'Connor and Kerevi proved an effective combination in the upset of world champions New Zealand in Perth last month.
Lock Adam Coleman, who scored the first of six tries by the Wallabies against Samoa, was spared full training in Japan while recovering from a thumb injury but Cheika expected him to be fit for Fiji.
After arriving late on Monday due to Typhoon Faxai, the Wallabies held an open training session on Wednesday at their Odawara base where local media were curious to know how they were coping with the humidity.
Cheika, who took his squad to a two-week boot-camp in balmy New Caledonia before the Samoa warmup, said the Wallabies were ready for any conditions.
"It doesn't matter. Snow, desert, nighttime, daytime, doesn't matter," he said.
"The conditions are the same for everyone."Reuters