Cape Town - Wallabies and Rebels wing Sefa Naivalu has been ruled out for at least six weeks with an ankle injury sustained in the 40-27 win over Italy.
It also means that Naivalu will take no further part in the Melbourne Rebels' Super Rugby campaign. Naivalu twisted his leg going into a collision with Italian centre Tommaso Boni, ending his night against Italy and any chance of another Super Rugby outing this season.
It was a tough blow for the 25-year-old, who had scored a double before going off, including a spectacular exhibition of his pace to spark the Wallabies’ attack early in Brisbane.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said Naivalu should be back for the opening Bledisloe on August 19, though that’s no guarantee he will be fit to be thrown into the fray.
“You would think with no intervention (operation) required, he's got about a six, seven-week return to play, which should have him back in time for first Bledisloe,” he said.
Henry Speight was the first-choice wing this season and was a chance to play against Italy after a hamstring injury ruled him out of the Scotland loss, but Cheika kept the Brumbies player on ice.
The Wallabies are expecting to have the services of Samu Kerevi and Nick Phipps for the Rugby Championship, both of whom are returning from syndesmosis injuries themselves.
Kurtley Beale will also come back into the frame, with the Premiership season over and his hamstring concern a thing of the past.
While the June series was a mixed bag for Australia, Cheika found bright spots in debutants Ned Hanigan and Karmichael Hunt as well as his lineout general Adam Coleman, who had his own calf issues this year.
“They've (Hunt and Hanigan) played three 80 minutes or full games (bar Karmichael who came off in the second game v Scotland), both of them, and they've stood out,” Cheika said.
“He's had a chequered year from his own injury and we just need players to keep chalking up more milestones for themselves around their workload to get back into the form they need and we might have a look at bringing a few other players into this next squad as well.”
The Wallabies players will head back to their states in the coming days for Super Rugby’s final two regular season rounds.