Australia are facing a major front-row crisis ahead of Saturday’s opening Test showdown with England.
Prop Ben Alexander has been ruled out of the Perth clash after damaging knee ligaments in the seven-try, 49-3 warm-up win over Fiji.
The Wallabies are already without regular front-row forwards Stephen Moore, Benn Robinson and Tatafu Polota-Nau, with Al Baxter and Matt Dunning also on the sidelines.
Uncapped Ben Daley is now on stand-by to make his Test debut at the Subiaco Oval but the situation is so bad, the Queensland Reds rookie was be forced to sit out England’s tour opener against the Australian Barbarians earlier today to prevent the risk of further injury.
But, bizarrely, the situation could help the Wallabies in the build up to the 2013 Lions tour.
Giving Daley experience at the highest level at this stage in his career will create greater strength in depth in Australia and that has to be a good thing when it comes to the visit of Britain and Ireland’s elite in 2013.
“Ben Alexander has picked up an injury which will keep him out for a few weeks,” said Australia coach Robbie Deans.
“It looks like a grade two medial ligament so he won’t play for a while.
“Injuries are part of the territory and we are building a generation of front-rowers.
“Ben Daley is ahead of schedule in terms of his original prognosis and hopefully we won’t be exposed.”