SYDNEY - Wallabies coach Michael Cheika's concerns over his midfield continued to mount on Friday with centre Samu Kerevi acknowledging he would not return to action for at least another two months.
The 24-year-old suffered a torn bicep in the Wallabies' 2-1 series loss to Ireland in June and had surgery in July. He was initially expected to be out until the tail end of the southern hemisphere's Rugby Championship in late September but said on Friday that he was still at least two months away from playing again.
"Rehab is coming along quite slow but I want to do it properly before I get back to playing," Kerevi told Rugby Australia's website. "Probably another eight to 10 weeks until I'm back playing."
The Wallabies are bottom of the southern hemisphere's Rugby Championship having lost their first two games to the All Blacks, defeats that ensured New Zealand retained the Bledisloe Cup for another 12 months.
Kerevi's absence created a selection headache for Cheika, with Tevita Kuridrani also out with a long-term injury, and the coach recognised he would have to rely on inexperienced players in the position for the Rugby Championship.
The versatile Reece Hodge played centre during the matches against New Zealand in Sydney and Auckland, but has mostly played flyhalf at Super Rugby level or in the outside backs for the Wallabies.
Kerevi, however, thought there was enough depth in the squad to cover the position and said that Hodge had played well against the All Blacks. "I thought he did an awesome job," Kerevi said. "There's a lot of depth in that spot still. We have Curtis Rona and Billy Meakes who can play there as well."
The Wallabies face a monumental task to get their Rugby Championship campaign back on track, with their next game against a wounded Springboks side in Brisbane on September 8.
The Springboks were beaten 32-19 by Argentina in Mendoza last Saturday and coach Rassie Erasmus has said his side must "win at all costs" in Brisbane, something Kerevi said his team mates would need to be aware of following the All Blacks losses.
"I know results haven't gone their way but this week gives them an opportunity to reset and then come out strong when they go into camp on Sunday," Kerevi said. "They've just got to stay close together and go again."