Tom Robertson’s World Cup dream ended on Thursday after a knee injury but fellow Wallabies Izack Rodda and Hunter Paisami will return this weekend from long-term layoffs.
Tighthead prop Robertson played in four of the last five Tests and was included in coach Eddie Jones’ first Australia squad since he took over earlier this year.
But he limped off during Western Force’s Super Rugby Pacific win over the ACT Brumbies last week, with the club confirming he had a serious anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.
“Robertson will be unavailable for the remainder of the ’23 Super Rugby Pacific competition,” Western Force said.
“He will see a specialist in the coming days to assess his return to play window.”
ACL injuries can take as long as nine months for a full recovery, effectively ending the 28-year-old’s hopes of appearing at the World Cup in France in September-October.
“The timing for him was really bad around the World Cup because personally, I think he was playing some of his best rugby,” Force coach Simon Cron told reporters.
But Jones will be buoyed by the return of lock Rodda and centre Paisami for Western Force and Queensland Reds respectively, with both named on the bench.
Rodda, a member of Australia’s 2019 Rugby World Cup squad, missed the Wallabies’ 2022 season after foot surgery, then hurt it again in February and has not played since.
He has at least two games of the regular Super Rugby Pacific season to make his case for a ticket to France, starting with an away clash on Friday against the Melbourne Rebels.
Paisami was a regular in the Wallabies team last year under former coach Dave Rennie, winning nine caps for the season, six as the starting inside centre.
But he has missed the last eight Super Rugby Pacific games with a medial ligament injury in his knee, casting doubt on his fitness for the World Cup.
The Reds face the Otago Highlanders in Dunedin, also on Friday.
Both games are must wins for all four teams with just two rounds of the season left.
The top eight on the 12-team ladder qualify for the quarter-finals, with the Reds best placed in seventh.