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Rugby Championship
More neck fears for McCabe
August 23, 2014
New Zealand 51-20 Australia (video available in Australia only)

Courageous winger Pat McCabe is facing more career-ending neck fears in a disturbing aftermath to the Wallabies' Bledisloe Cup horror show. McCabe flew home to Australia on Sunday afternoon in a neck brace and will visit his surgeon this week after receiving alarming scan results.

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said the scans suggested a recurrence of the two C1 neck fractures which wiped out the bulk of his 2012 and 2013 seasons.

"If it is a recurrence of the same injury it's not a good situation," McKenzie admitted. "He'll see a surgeon this week and get it diagnosed so that's a pretty disappointing outcome."

McCabe, who defied the odds to return this year and be tagged as the "Chuck Norris" of rugby, was replaced in the 63rd minute of the 50-21 loss after copping a head knock. Like his last C1 injury, in last year's first Test against the British and Irish Lions, it wasn't from a major collision.

"It was fairly innocuous," McKenzie said. "He just got a knock on the top of his head and just felt it. When you have these injuries you get a feeling for the symptoms and so he felt the similarities and came straight off."

McCabe is virtually certain to miss Australia's next clash, against South Africa on September 6, and is in grave doubt for the rest of the Rugby Championship. Powerful centre Tevita Kuridrani looms as a replacement with Adam Ashley-Cooper to return to the wing in a backline reshuffle.

The Wallabies will also be without Nathan Charles against the Springboks at Patersons Stadium as their hooker's curse continued in the six-try thumping at Eden Park. Charles will have scans on Monday for what is hoped to be a rib problem rather than a pectoral tear. Australia are already missing captain Stephen Moore with a season-ending knee injury while fellow rake Tatafu Polota-Nau is struggling to return from his own knee ligament problem in time for the Boks.

"He's not far away but he hasn't progressed as much as we would have liked," McKenzie said. "The hooking position is putting us under pressure."

James Hanson , with just two caps off the bench, is now in line to make his first run-on Test start against South Africa while fellow Queensland rake Saia Fainga'a is set for a recall on the bench.


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