Australia, England get bad news on RWC rest day
Updated: September 12, 2011, 04:43
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QUEENSTOWN, New Zealand(AP) Australia and England each spent the Rugby World Cup's first rest day contemplating the potential absence of a key player for the weeks ahead.
The Wallabies found out Monday that they will be without Digby Ioane for at least Saturday's game against Ireland after the winger broke his thumb in his team's opening win over Italy. And England will learn Tuesday whether Courtney Lawes can play again in the tournament after the lock was cited for alleged use of the knee on Argentina's Mario Ledesme.
Argentina knows it will be without Gonzalo Tiesi for the rest of the tournament after the knee injury the center sustained in the opening loss to England was diagnosed as damaged knee ligaments.
The 26-year-old Tiesi was hurt in a collision with Lawes and will be replaced by in the squad by winger Lucas Borges.
There was at least some good news for the Pumas, who lost 13-9 to England on Sunday, when team doctor Guillermo Botto said captain Felipe Contepomi could recover from a rib injury to play against Romania in Invercargill on Saturday.
Without any more pool matches scheduled until Wednesday, it was otherwise a day of training or recuperation and relaxation for the 20 competing nations.
While Tonga, Samoa, Georgia, Canada, Namibia and Scotland all named their lineups for their next matches, England's players went bungee-jumping and white water rafting in Queenstown, where Romania is also quartered ahead of its next match.
Ioane's right hand was accidentally kicked by Italy winger Mirco Bergamasco as the wing tried to pick up a loose ball in the second half of Australia's 32-6 win at North Harbour Stadium on Sunday.
He scored the last of Australia's four second-half tries and played out the remaining 20 minutes of the Pool C match after the incident.
"As Ioane tried to scoop up the ball, his thumb was struck by the boot of Bergamasco, who was attempting to toe the ball further downfield,'' the Australian Rugby Union said in a statement Monday. "Ioane will be operated on and will remain with the Wallabies in New Zealand.
"He is expected to be available to play again later in the tournament, although the exact timelines on when he might be able to return will not be known until after the joint has been operated on and his rehabilitation from the injury has begun.''
Australia plays Ireland on Saturday and the United States on Sept. 23 before wrapping up pool play against Russia on Oct. 1.
The injury is a major blow to the Wallabies as the 26-year-old Ioane has been one of their standout players this season. He has scored nine tries in 17 tests, and was an integral member of the Queensland Reds team that won the Super 15 title in July.
But at least James O'Connor's dynamic performance as a second-half substitute means Australia has a ready-made replacement.
England may also be calling upon backups after tournament organizers confirmed that Lawes had become the first player of the tournament to be cited.
"We have received notification of Courtney's citing,'' England team manager Martin Johnson said. "We will of course provide Rugby World Cup with any information required and attend the hearing as requested.''
England's Rugby Football Union said it will not comment further on the case until after the hearing, which will take place in Auckland at 2 p.m. local time (0200 GMT).
If Lawes is suspended, that would open a second-row berth to Tom Palmer or veteran Simon Shaw.
The hearing venue in the northeast of New Zealand is inconvenient to England since the team is based on the South Island for its first three matches in Dunedin. England is not due to visit the North Island again until Sept. 25, when it flies to Auckland for its last first-round match against Scotland at Eden Park.
England received news of the citing while on a five-day stay in the alpine resort of Queenstown, where players including Mark Cueto, Richard Wigglesworth, Dylan Hartley and Toby Flood spent the day getting their adrenaline fix ahead of Sunday's second Pool B match against Georgia.
Hartley shared his excitement on Twitter: "Awesome Foursome completed - never thought I'd be able to do the bungee! Helicopter ride, white water rafting, jetboat and then the bungee!''
Romania also was in town ahead of its game against Argentina.
"When I visited Queenstown last May I enjoyed it very much,'' Romania manager Robert Antonin said. "The town is very pleasant and the facilities for the team are very good, so I thought between the two games it would be very good to stay here.''
Playing its second match at the Rugby World Cup in just four days, Scotland retained only four players who began Saturday's 34-24 win over Romania for its second match against Georgia.
But coach Andy Robinson said the selection reflected the demands of a quick turnaround rather than serious disappointment with the side that trailed Romania by three points with 10 minutes to go before winning with two late tries.
Alastair Kellock did not even make the reserves and was replaced as captain by Rory Lawson, who has a 100 percent record as skipper with victories over South Africa, Samoa and Ireland.
"We want to earn the lessons from the weekend, give a big performance against Georgia and keep building momentum,'' Lawson said.
Samoa kicks of its tournament against Namibia with the same starting 15 which toppled Australia in July.
Samoa stunned the Wallabies 32-23 in a one-off test in Sydney for its first win over a team ranked in the world's top five.
No consideration was giving to resting players ahead of the next Pool D match against Wales on Sunday in Hamilton.
"This is our first game, the best team we've selected,'' coach Dickie Tafua said. "We're not worried about the second game.''