Connolly reminds Wallaby selectors of Reds prospects
May 29, 2000

Queensland coach John Connolly said Wallaby selectors would not err if they rushed flanker David Wilson back from injury for the opening Test match next month.

Wilson has been sidelined since April 29 with a fractured sternum and may not return before June 7 when national coach Rod Macqueen and fellow selectors Jeff Miller and Andrew Slack name the squad to play Argentina at Ballymore on June 17.

Queensland team doctor Greg Smith said Wilson would not play against New South Wales in the national championship opener on Saturday night and remained in doubt for the second match against the ACT Brumbies three days later.

But Dr Smith said he was certain Wilson would be fit by June 17 and Connolly has urged selectors to include the 72-Test veteran.

"If he's fit then I'm sure they would select him because his form midway through the Super 12 was probably some of the best of his career," Connolly said. "He's a very professional player and it's hard to go past his experience."

The Super 12 season is the major guide for national selectors, but Wallaby coach Rod Macqueen said some of the hotly-contested positions could be decided during the opening two matches of the national championship.

Wilson is still feeling discomfort from the injury suffered against the Cats in Bloemfontein during Queensland's failed bid to make the Super 12 finals.

The 33-year-old will undergo another examination this week but he has so far been restricted to cross-training while young backrowers George Smith and Phil Waugh press their Wallaby claims.

Injury-plagued Queensland winger Ben Tune should be able to prove his fitness before the Tests with Connolly confirming Tune could return for Saturday night's clash with NSW in Sydney.

Tune has battled an annoying foot problem, but his recovery will be monitored at training this week with Connolly also hoping former Wallaby winger Damian Smith will be available following injury problems.

The news is worse for Australian World Cup backrower Toutai Kefu, who faces at least another month on the sidelines with a knee problem. Dr Smith said an MRI scan revealed a linear crack in Kefu's right knee, probably opening the door for form ACT No.8 Jim Williams to start against Argentina.

Macqueen is reluctant to discuss Wallaby selection options but said he was heartened by the emergence of several young players in the Super 12 tournament that climaxed with New Zealand's Crusaders shading the Brumbies 20-19 in the final at Bruce Stadium on Saturday.

"We have to be reasonably happy that some different players are being given an opportunity over the year, we've got some up and coming young players like (NSW back rowers Phil) Waugh and (David) Lyons and (ACT back Stirling) Mortlock and (ACT flanker George) Smith," MacQueen said. "There's more young players who have played full seasons of Super 12 this year which has given them an opportunity."

Meanwhile, luckless Queensland flyhalf Nathan Spooner has received another setback in his never-ending quest to return from injury. Spooner was forced off during a club match for Brothers last weekend when his groin problem flared again.

Just 12 months ago, Spooner wore the Wallaby No.10 jumper but he missed all of Queensland's Super 12 campaign this year.

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