Things have gone from bad to worse for the Wallabies at the Rugby World Cup, with uncapped teenager Max Jorgensen fracturing his leg at training on Wednesday. The 19-year-old was bidding to become the youngest Wallabies player ever to make their debut at a World Cup, but suffered the injury during a drill on Wednesday morning.
He was immediately sent for scans, which confirmed the fracture and ruled him out of the remainder of the World Cup. Jorgensen wasn't expected to feature in the Wallabies' must-win clash with Wales in Lyon on Sunday (Monday AEST), but could have been in line for a Test debut against minnows Portugal in Saint-Etienne next week.
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Jorgensen has been seen wearing heavy strapping on his left knee throughout the World Cup so far after suffering a serious injury while playing for the NSW Waratahs in May. Coach Eddie Jones said the squad was shattered for Jorgensen, who is the son of two-Test Wallaby Peter Jorgensen.
"Firstly we're all feeling for Max. He's a good young man who has a massive future ahead of him in the gold jersey," Jones said in a statement.
"He's worked really hard to come back from a serious knee injury and was training exceptionally well to put his hand up for selection. We wish him a speedy and successful recovery and look forward to seeing him out on the field as soon as possible."
Jones will now have to decide who to bring into the squad to replace Jorgensen. The speedster might be replaced by an Australian player currently is in camp with the Barbarians, who are playing matches throughout the UK and Ireland at the moment.
Discarded fullback Tom Wright is one option, while Jones could turn to Bernard Foley to provide depth at five-eighth after Carter Gordon struggled in their historic loss to Fiji. There's no rules that stipulates teams must swap players like for like, with South Africa this week replacing injured hooker Malcolm Marx with five-eighth Handre Pollard.
Lock Will Skelton (calf) and prop Taniela Tupou (hamstring) will also be unavailable for the Wales game, and with no public timeline for their return the Wallabies could look to bolster their forward stocks. Former captain Michael Hooper has continued to train and is ready should Jones send an SOS to the flanker after controversially leaving him out of the World Cup squad.
have a speedy recovery ❤️🩹 Max 🇦🇺 rugby 🏉 can be a cruel sport
— bluebynature71 (@missieblue52) September 20, 2023
That’s a sad end to his season. There will be plenty more. Chin up young fella.
Let’s not mess around now. Len Ikitau on the blower immediately
— Derek Murray 🇦🇺🇬🇧 (@dmurray59) September 20, 2023
Devastating news, such a talented kid. Too many injuries at training, what is going on??
— Gottsy (@NicholasGotts) September 20, 2023
— Jez (@JezzaD1972) September 20, 2023
And you hear now that young Max Jorgensen is out of the rest of the tournament with a fracture? You do wonder what they’re doing at training.
— Julia (@JuliaTempler) September 20, 2023
Drew Mitchell launched scathing tirade at Eddie Jones
Before news of Jorgensen's injury broke, former Wallabies winger Drew Mitchell questioned Jones' training regime after the injuries to Skelton and Tupou, which ruled the pair out of the Fiji match. "From all reports and from the evidence of two players having soft tissue injuries, he's (Jones) over-trained them through the week," Mitchell said on 'The Good, The Bad and the Rugby Australia' podcast.
"How can you have a hamstring and a calf leading into the biggest game of our World Cup? There's definitely an element of over-training for sure if you're getting soft tissue injuries. There's probably an indication that he (Jones) felt the pressure and has over-worked the guys."
The Wallabies' 22-15 loss to Fiji marked their first against the pacific islanders in 69 years, and first at a World Cup ever. "Let's not take away from the fact that Fiji played really well, but let's also not take away from the fact that we f****** shouldn't have lost to Fiji," Mitchell said.
"You've (Jones) made some glaring decisions around Quade (Cooper), around Michael Hooper, six captains in seven weeks, like, f****** explain some of these decisions to us. Because as fans we're all sitting here scratching our heads, and a lot of the time we can sit there and defend Eddie or the Wallabies because we can understand logic in some of these decisions but there's none of it. Tell us as fans why have you not picked these guys? because now we're seeing the result of you not picking some of these guys."
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