The Wallabies will be without injured superstar Israel Folau when they attempt to win in Auckland for the first time in 1986 and avoid a 16th straight year of Bledisloe Cup despair.
Folau departed ANZ Stadium on crutches after suffering an ankle injury midway through the second half of Saturday night’s crushing 38-13 loss to the All Blacks in game one at ANZ Stadium.
He was not in attendance as the Wallabies arrived at Sydney airport to fly out on Sunday morning.
“He’s off for scans. He’s got a pretty swollen ankle,” Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said on Saturday night.
“Looked like he rolled it when he went up to catch so we will see after he gets a scan exactly what the diagnosis is.”
The three-times John Eales Medallist cut a dejected figure as he hobbled off, leaving young guns Jack Maddocks and Tom Banks in line to fill the champion fullback’s boots at Eden Park next Saturday.
Maddocks scored Australia’s only try on his Test debut after replacing winger Dane Haylett-Petty for the final 25 minutes on Saturday night and Cheika said he’d have no hesitation starting the 22-year-old should Folau be ruled out.
“I thought he did OK out there when he went on,” Cheika said.
“I haven’t had a good look at it, but he wouldn’t have been on the bench if we didn’t think he was ready to play.
“So he played tonight, got a few touches and got a try as well.
“So, yeah, I would imagine he would be there (but) we’ve also got Tom Banks, who’s an out-and-out fullback so we’ll see where we end up.”
Of even greater concern for the Wallabies than being without their attacking trump is fixing their shaky set piece after losing seven of their eight lineouts and conceding several scrum penalties in the series opener.
“We need to be disappointed about this result,” said skipper Michael Hooper.
Hooper lamented his side’s inability to capitalise on a promising start as the All Blacks made a sluggish, error-prone beginning.
“They put us under pressure, turned over the ball and they ran in some quality tries.”
The Wallabies kept the world champions scoreless until the 39th minute and led 6-5 at halftime, only to leak five tries after the interval in an all-too- familiar defeat at the hands of their clinical arch-rivals.
All Blacks captain Kieran Read described Aaron Smith’s try 90 seconds before halftime as the turning point.
“It was crucial,” he said.
“They had probably dominated that half so for us to get back in touch on the scoreboard was great. I think the resilience within the boys was awesome.”