After taking a big knock against the Welsh in Saturday’s 29-29 draw, Stephen Larkham may miss out against Italy on the weekend.
This has hampered plans to retain the experimental combination of Matt Giteau (scrumhalf), Mat Rogers (flyhalf) and Larkham (inside centre) for the game in Rome, which is a pity since the three backs had looked so promising as a unit against Wales.
“Larkham’s under a bit of a cloud with his shoulder, as he got a bad knock on it,” said Wallaby coach John Connolly. “We’ll have to probably sit for 24 hours on it and get our minds around that. He’s training, but it is a bit sore.”
Should Larkham be ruled out, Stirling Mortlock will make his return to the Aussie side at No 12, pairing up with Lote Tuqiri in the midfield. If Larkham does prove fit enough to play, Mortlock will shift to the more familiar position on the outside.
There is likey to be a few changes in the pack, with the ACT Brumbies’ Mark Chisholm replacing the crocked Dan Vickerman at lock. Phil Waugh should get a rest, allowing George Smith to come in on the flank. Brendan Cannon could start at hooker, while Guy Shepherdson is tipped to displace Rodney Blake at tighthead.
Meanwhile, Western Force No 8 Scott Fava has joined Queensland loose forward Mitchell Chapman in making the trip to the UK, as the injured Hugh McMeniman is heading back home with Vickerman.