AUSTRALIAN star James O’Connor is a doubt for the Wallabies’ three Test-match series with Wales in June due to a lacerated liver.
The Melbourne Rebels utility back was hospitalised after taking an accidental knee to the ribs in a heavy collision with Wallabies teammate Berrick Barnes in Saturday’s Super Rugby loss to the Waratahs.
The talented O’Connor will not resume contact training for six weeks.
The Wallabies open their 2012 season with a one-off Test against Scotland in Newcastle on June 5 before taking on Grand Slam champions Wales in the three-match series.
The 21-year-old could be available for the second Test against Wales in Melbourne on June 16 if his rehabilitation runs smoothly, however coach Robbie Deans is unlikely to take any risks with the 36-Test star.
Deans is also likely to be without Reds centre Ben Tapuai, who will be sidelined for three months after breaking his collarbone in Queensland’s loss to the Stormers on Saturday night.
The 23-year-old, who made his Test debut against Wales in Cardiff in November, requires surgery and is highly unlikely to play any further part in the Reds’ Super Rugby campaign.
Wales have injury worries of their own ahead of their clashes with the Tri Nations champions who beat them to third place in the autumn’s World Cup after winning their bronze medal play-off 21-18. They will be without centre Jamie Roberts (knee) while midfield partner Jonathan Davies (hernia) and hooker Huw Bennett (Achilles tendon) could also miss out.
Robert Howley is caretaker coach for the trip and June 5’s game against the Barbarians after Warren Gatland broke both heels falling off a ladder at his New Zealand holiday home this month.