Tri-Nations - Double blow for Australia

Reuters - Sun, 25 Jul 05:19:00 2010

Australia's Tri-Nations campaign has been dealt a double-blow with Quade Cooper suspended for two weeks for an illegal tackle during their match against South Africa and Digby Ioane ruled out for the season with a shoulder injury.

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Flyhalf Cooper was sinbinned midway through the second half of the Wallabies' 30-13 win over the Springboks at Lang Park on Saturday after lifting Morne Steyn in a tackle.

He was suspended after a hearing in Brisbane on Sunday, where SANZAR judicial officer Bruce Squire likened the tackle to that which Jean de Villiers received the same penalty for after the Springboks' loss to New Zealand in Wellington last week.

"This is consistent application in terms of like penalties for like offences," Squire said in a statement.

A stony-faced Robbie Deans said the Wallabies would consider appealing to have the verdict overturned before their clash against the All Blacks in Melbourne on Saturday.

"Obviously Quade's disappointed, we're disappointed but we're in the process now of contemplating where to from here," Deans told reporters. "It obviously means that we're posed with a different challenge I guess, but it will still be a significant challenge that we'll bring to Melbourne."

Cooper's loss would mean another midfield reshuffle for Deans, who had been pleased with the successful reunion between Cooper and his Queensland Reds team mate Will Genia on Saturday.

Berrick Barnes, who came off the bench on Saturday, could replace Cooper, with Deans satisfied with Giteau's performance at inside centre.

"We do have some (depth) now, which is great, which we didn't have this time last year," Deans said. "(Barnes) is capable of playing both (centre and flyhalf), Gits (Giteau) can play both."

Ioane, who had been targeting a return for the Wallabies clash against the All Blacks in Melbourne on Saturday had sustained the injury when being tackled by his brother last week, a team spokesman said.

"He went down, his brother fell on him and the shoulder popped," he told reporters. "He's gone for the Tri-Nations."

Ioane had dislocated his left shoulder during the Wallabies 21-20 loss to England in Sydney last month in an injury initially deemed season-ending, but later downgraded after doctors said he would not need surgery.

"It's tough on Digby because he got his hopes up," Deans said. "He's a tough bloke and he's a great bloke and he deserves a lot. He will get a lot. He will be rewarded as an individual he's just paying forward, I guess."

No injury concerns were reported from the Springboks match, though lock Nathan Sharpe lost a tooth in the physical clash and later had it returned to him after a team of ground staff were deployed to find it on the field.

Reuters

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