THE Wallabies' woes continued last night when their tighthead prop Sekope Kepu was ruled out of Saturday night's Test against the All Blacks in Auckland after damaging his medial ligament in training.
The Wallabies team management were uncertain last night how long Kepu would be unavailable after he suffered a grade-two medial strain.
The most likely replacements for the return Bledisloe Cup Test are James Slipper or Ben Alexander. This comes on top of the Wallabies discovering earlier yesterday that their Test captain David Pocock would be sidelined for at least three months after undergoing keyhole surgery on his damaged right knee.
The Wallabies wanted to be alone yesterday, opting for their first private training session in five seasons as they try to find answers that would quell the All Blacks.
Since Robbie Deans took over as Wallabies coach in 2008, the Test training sessions have been open affairs, with the media allowed to watch the proceedings unfold. Deans has never been bothered by onlookers watching training.
However, at the request of the new Wallabies captain and halfback Will Genia, the media was told yesterday that after 10 minutes of watching the warm-up, they had to all leave Leichhardt Oval - no exceptions.
On Monday, Genia appeared agitated after being involved in several interviews that were focused on him replacing the injured Pocock as Test skipper. Following the media commitments, Genia was in what appeared to be an animated discussion with Deans and the Wallabies media manager Matt McIlraith.
Clearly the Wallabies, under enormous pressure after their appalling performance in the opening trans-Tasman Test in Sydney on Saturday night, wanted to try their new attacking combinations well away from prying eyes.
The strong speculation continues that Quade Cooper will move into the Test No.10 jersey, with Berrick Barnes being shifted to inside-centre. While Drew Mitchell is in line to come onto the wing, and Adam Ashley-Cooper to take over at fullback, Kurtley Beale is in danger of being demoted to the reserves bench after his dreadful effort at ANZ Stadium.
When the team is announced tomorrow, Michael Hooper is scheduled to take over Pocock's No.7 position, with Liam Gill moving to the bench. Hooper revealed yesterday he had never played against his All Blacks opposite Richie McCaw, and had never been to Eden Park. He had been to Auckland, but that was a long time ago. So he knows nothing about the Australian hoodoo that surrounds Eden Park - a venue where the Wallabies last won 26 years ago.
''There's no preconceived ideas … It's just another park to us, and that's the way we're treating it,'' Hooper said yesterday.
The Brumbies breakaway, moving to the Waratahs next season, said it would probably have been helpful if he had played against McCaw, but believed the surprise element could work in his favour. ''It is good to have played against someone, because that gives you a bit of a feel. Then again, he doesn't know how I play.''