Super Rugby Round 14 - Waratahs v Brumbies
Lions doubts for Smith and Polota-Nau
May 18, 2013
Tatafu Polota-Nau left the pitch with what seemed to be a broken right arm © Getty Images
Smith, a veteran of Australia's 2001 series triumph over the Lions, trudged dejected up the tunnel on the hour mark of New South Wales Waratahs' 28-22 Super Rugby victory against the Brumbies at ANZ Stadium. On a dire night for Deans before he names a 25-man squad on Sunday to take on the Lions, incumbent Test hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau sustained a likely broken forearm and four other hopefuls were hurt.
Deans, though, was most dreading losing Smith, who dominated the ruck battle before the Waratahs recovered from 22-16 down to steal the win in the flanker's absence.
"He got a bang on the knee and there's obviously a concern," Brumbies coach Jake White said. "At this point of time, it looks like it might be his medial ligament - which is not the one that needs surgery - but for Robbie's concern, if it's a six- to eight-week injury that means he won't be involved in the Lions series. Hopefully it's good news on Monday after the scan.
"It just goes to show how highly regarded he is even by Robbie ... you saw how much he means to us tonight as well. He was outstanding again tonight. I know he got penalised a few times but the work rate that he gets through on the field is phenomenal."
Polota-Nau is almost certainly out of the Lions series, but White and Waratahs coach Michael Cheika were less concerned about other players injured in the brutal derby that left the Brumbies vulnerable to relinquishing their Australian conference lead to Queensland Reds.
Waratahs centre Rob Horne was poked in an eye and was replaced at half-time by Berrick Barnes, who surely clinched his place in the national squad with a second successive match-turning display. Horne's opposite number Christian Lealiifano suffered a corked thigh and was also unable to return after the break, while his replacement, Wallabies centre Pat McCabe, was another to hobble off with a knee injury. And incumbent Test lock Kane Douglas played less than a minute before he was concussed in a heavy tackle from Smith.
New South Wales Waratahs celebrated a hard-fought won over the Brumbies (video available only in Australia)