Australia and ACT Brumbies back Pat McCabe’s rugby season is over after re-injuring his neck in the first test against the British and Irish Lions last weekend.
Originally ruled out of the remaining two tests, the Australian Rugby Union said in a statement on Wednesday that McCabe, who first sustained a fracture during the Wallabies’ test against France in Paris last November, had been ruled out for the remainder of the year after seeing consulting specialists in Sydney.
McCabe, who played his 20th test in the Wallabies’ 23-21 loss to the Lions in Brisbane, will wear a neck brace for at least six weeks to stabilize the injury.
“It’s unfortunate that having completed the healing process from last year’s injury, that it has happened again,” Wallabies doctor Warren McDonald said.
“But there are a wide course of options open to Pat, which will be considered once the rehabilitation has been completed. This does not mean that Pat will not be able to return to the rugby field and be able to feel comfortable taking contact.”
McCabe said it “could have been a lot worse.”
“It was encouraging to hear the specialists being positive both about the recovery process but also the possibility that I could be able to return to the playing field,” McCabe said. “Hopefully things will go to plan, I’m pretty confident they will. I think I’ve got plenty of games left in me.”
On Tuesday, Digby Ioane and McCabe were ruled out of the remainder of the series, adding to the Australian injury toll.
Ioane hurt his right shoulder but finished the first test when Australia lost four backline players to injuries and had to move flanker Michael Hooper into the midfield and play replacement halfback Nick Phipps on the wing in the second half.
Ioane will have scans on his shoulder and may require surgery.
Berrick Barnes has been ruled out of Saturday’s second test in Melbourne after leaving the field with a concussion and injured jaw last weekend, while Adam Ashley-Cooper and Christian Leali’ifano remain in doubt for the Melbourne match.
Ashley-Cooper hurt his shoulder joint but tests have ruled out serious damage. Leali’ifano’s test debut lasted 52 seconds against the Lions after he suffered a concussion attempting to tackle opposing centre Jonathan Davies.
The ARU says Leali’ifano could be considered for selection for the second test, although Ben Tapuai has been drafted into the training squad as injury cover.
The Australians and Lions are scheduled to announce their squads for the second test on Thursday. A win by the Lions would clinch their first series victory since 1997 ahead of the final test in Sydney on July 6.