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Wallabies say midfield injuries don't look serious

Updated: September 23, 2011, 20:59


WELLINGTON, New Zealand(AP) Injured Australia centers Rob Horne, Anthony Fainga'a and Pat McCabe appear to be better than expected on Saturday, a day after they were hurt in the team's 67-5 World Cup win over the United States.

Coach Robbie Deans said the players will undergo more tests in Christchurch, where the team was flying to on Saturday, to determine whether they need to call on replacements.

Horne broke his cheekbone, Fainga'a took a knock to his head and McCabe dislocated his shoulder.

No. 8 Wycliff Palu (hamstring), fullback Kurtley Beale (hamstring) and winger Adam Ashley-Cooper (ankle) were also being monitored after the rash of injuries tainted a solid win.

Horne and Fainga'a were the starting centers but neither finished the match, and neither did Horne's replacement McCabe.

Horne's broken cheekbone was "only a minor displacement,'' said Deans, who added it was a "promising'' outlook. The injury-plagued Horne, playing his first test since last year's Tri-Nations, was hurt virtually in his first tackle but stayed on the field until the 48th minute.

Fainga'a was accidentally kneed in the head in a tackle, knocked unconscious, and taken off by stretcher in the second half.

"He has presented very well this morning,'' Deans said. "He can recall everything, including the moments leading up to the tackle, so that's a great sign. (But) it's not something that we mess around with so we'll monitor him and just make sure he's fully recovered before he re-enters the fray.''

McCabe's shoulder popped out and in, and Deans was initially concerned about muscle damage which would sideline McCabe.

"In the first instance (the shoulder) doesn't appear to be as grave as it potentially could have been,'' he said.

The trio joined a casualty ward already featuring wingers James O'Connor (hamstring) and Digby Ioane (thumb) plus flankers David Pocock (back) and Scott Higginbotham (back).

The tonic for Australia after a raw run of injuries came from Berrick Barnes, who made an outstanding return from his own injury crisis. Barnes has been sidelined since early in the Super 15 after the latest in a series of head injuries left him suffering migraine headaches.

Before Friday's match he had played only at club level. He stepped in at flyhalf against the United States when the loss of Beale shortly before halftime forced Quade Cooper to drop from that position to fullback.

The Wallabies' backline appeared to work more smoothly with Barnes in command.

"Berrick played well,'' Deans said. "It was good to see him back out there. He played well, kicked well, so that was one positive.

"That was a big step for him. He'll take a lot of confidence out of that, and that's good for him and it's good for us.''

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