Australia have suffered a massive blow on the eve of their Rugby Championship clash against SA on Saturday after influential No 8 David Pocock was ruled out of the match due to a neck injury.
Pocock’s participation had been the subject of intense speculation all week and he did not take part in physical contact at training as he tried to fully recover from Australia's brutal back-to-back battles against New Zealand.
The Australians accused the All Blacks of using illegal neck rolls in the ruck.
But despite the question marks over his fitness‚ coach Michael Cheika included him in the starting line on Thursday.
He has been replaced by Pete Samu who will be making his first Test start after first linking up with the team in June.
This means that the Wallabies will start the match against the Boks without the highly experienced duo of Pocock and Bernard Foley‚ who has been dropped to the bench and replaced in the starting line-up by Kurtley Beale.
Australia’s misfortune is good news for the Boks because Pocock is widely regarded as one of the world’s premier breakdown exponents and Wallabies captain Michael Hooper admitted that his absence is a big blow.
Hooper added that he had full faith in Samu.
“I'm very disappointed for David and the team‚ he's been in outstanding form all year and he's a big leader‚" said the Wallabies captain
“Even just for him‚ he really wants to be out there.
"He's given himself every chance.
"He's been ticking all the boxes but it hasn't come to light.
"It's unfortunate but Pete's coming in and he's been doing a great job in the cameos he's been having off the bench."