Australia have suffered a double injury blow at the Rugby World Cup, with two of their biggest forwards, Wycliff Palu and Will Skelton, ruled out of the tournament days before their crunch match against England.
Lock Skelton came off the field early in the second half of the 65-3 win over Uruguay on 27 September with what turned out to be a pectoral muscle injury, while number eight Palu was withdrawn at halftime with a hamstring strain. Scans on Monday ruled them out of the tournament and they were replaced in the squad by hooker James Hanson and lock Sam Carter.
"Very few players have the opportunity to play for the Wallabies, let alone at a Rugby World Cup, so from that perspective I'm really gutted for them," coach Michael Cheika said in a news release.
"From a team perspective, they both play important roles in the side and it is disappointing that we need to replace players in our squad. Both James and Sam have been part of the team at various stages this season and I am confident they will be able to step up and grasp the opportunity they have been given," he added.
Speaking at a news conference on 29 September, Chieka said Palu would probably retire from international rugby. "Wycliff has been a very, very remarkable player for Australia more than likely the last game he will play for Australia it is a sad day in that regard," he said. "He has brought us so much over the years and on this tour in particular. I think his presence and the way he has come back from injury to play in the tournament has been really special for the players. He has a strong but quiet influence within the team and he is going to be sorely missed.
Cheika added that his side had prepared to lose players coming into the World Cup, and Hanson and Carter were keen to make an immediate impact.
"We have become a pretty tight knit family here over this last little period, we feel for those lads but it is part of the game, and that is going to show the depth we have got and the quality of the players coming in, how they respond. Not just her is my opportunity, I am going to take it with both hands, We saw from both of those players when they did come on the American leg of our trip how much they wanted to be involved because thee were two or three others who came on the American section that didn't come here didn't come here and all three of those players were busting everything they had to have the opportunity if they were required to be called on."
Australia have won both their Pool A matches, against Fiji and Uruguay, but face a major test on 3 October against an England side stinging from a last-gasp loss to Wales. Looking ahead to the England game, Cheika said his team were taking it very seriously.
"Every game is like a World Cup final," he said. "We have started the tournament like that. Every day we have been training like that. We have had a different approach from some of the other teams thinking like that. Just where we have come from and also the way we are building our campaign. And so it is what it is. We knew it was coming, so let's just prep for it and go for it, simple."
He added that England, with home advantage, would start as favourites. "We are playing in the opposition's backyard," he said. "I was talking to some lads the other day, when the thunder starts at Twickenham you have to be ready for it. They have been very successful and are very successful at that ground. It is just about being ready to be yourself and play our way and play the best we possibly can and let the cards fall where they may."