Rugby-Rennie planning without O'Connor, Toomua for French opener

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Wallabies coach Dave Rennie is planning to be without experienced playmakers James O'Connor and Matt Toomua for the first of three home tests against France next month.

Flyhalf O'Connor is managing a groin "niggle" in Australia's training camp on the Gold Coast, while inside centre Toomua is being treated for a neck injury in Canberra before joining the squad on Sunday.

Rennie also has young flyhalf Noah Lolesio, who made his debut last year, in the squad and played utility back Reece Hodge in the number 10 shirt in a win over New Zealand last season.

"We've got some good young men in this group who are pressing for selection, so you've got to plan to be without them," he told reporters from Sanctuary Cove on Thursday.

"We'll know more at the end of the weekend, see how Matt returns and James recovers."

The injury situation at scrumhalf is a little more concerning with Rennie confirming that a knee injury has sidelined his starting halfback from last season, Nic White.

"He's done an MCL so that'll be four plus weeks so that'll count him out of the French series," Rennie said, referring to a ligament injury.

That means a likely first test start for Queensland's electric halfback Tate McDermott and a possible first cap for Ryan Lonergan, who was brought into the camp as injury cover for Jake Gordon.

Rennie said that Gordon, who had been pencilled in to play a part in the second test, was ahead of schedule in his recovery from a knee injury and there were no plans to bring in another scrumhalf.

The New Zealander said he had been impressed by Lonergan, whose uncapped hooker brother Lachlan Lonergan is also in the squad.

"He's a good player isn't he?" Rennie said.

"He's a smart kid and it's been good having him in this environment. We brought him in as cover for Jake and we're hanging onto him, he's going really well.

Australia take on an understrength France side in Sydney on July 7 before tests in Melbourne and Brisbane over the following 10 days.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Robert Birsel)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights

Next In Rugby

Rugby-Boks say Lions coach Gatland lit touch-paper in referee row
Rugby-Biggar to complete concussion tests on eve of second test
Rugby-Jones expects Boks to revert to type and push for set-piece dominance
Rugby-Erasmus airs grievances over Lions tour refereeing in hour-long video
PREVIEW-Rugby-Springboks look to bounce back and level series against Lions
FACTBOX-Rugby-South Africa v British & Irish Lions – second test
Fiji retain title with emphatic victory over New Zealand
Olympics-Rugby-Fiji's hardships make gold all the sweeter, says Tuwai
Olympics-Rugby-Argentina's passion fires them to "dream" bronze
Rugby-Gatland praises Itoje but also gets in a dig

Stories You'll Enjoy