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Pocock injury rules him out of final two Tests against England

By Jack de Menezes

Published 13/06/2016

Key player: James Haskell had a superb game for England in Brisbane
Key player: James Haskell had a superb game for England in Brisbane

England's hopes of securing a first Test series victory in Australia on Saturday have been handed a further boost after influential Australia back-row David Pocock was ruled out of the remaining two Tests after suffering a fractured eye socket in the Wallabies' 39-28 first Test defeat on Saturday.

Former Australia captain Pocock was forced off the field after being injured in a collision as he entered a ruck, and scans have revealed that the No 8 suffered the fracture that will sideline him for between four to six weeks.

It means that the 28-year-old, who starred in Australia's run to the Rugby World Cup final last year, will miss the weekend clash in Melbourne as well as the final third Test in Sydney on June 25.

It leaves Australia head coach Michael Cheika with a difficult decision to make.

The Wallabies currently deploy Pocock, a natural openside flanker, at No 8 to give themselves an edge at the breakdown in the form of a double-pronged attack with Michael Hooper. Sean McMahon came off the replacements' bench on Saturday for blindside flanker Scott Fardy, and should Cheika elect to continue with his current plan, then the Melbourne Rebels back-row would be the most likely replacement for Pocock.

However, Cheika could also revert back to a traditional No 8 with both Ben McCalman and Wycliffe Palu in the squad, while Liam Gill is also capable of coming into the side to replace Pocock.

"David played very well in the first Test. We'll have a look at some options that we have," head coach Michael Cheika said.

"We have the option of staying with what we've got or, if we want to bring in almost a like-for-like player, then we'll go with Liam Gill.

"We have options that have got experience, so we're fortunate there, but at the same time it's disappointing to lose a player of David's quality.

"The skills he brings to the game are superb and there's that dynamic that we have in the back-row with himself, Michael Hooper and Scott Fardy."

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