David Pocock, the Australia captain, is a doubt for next weekend's Bledisloe Cup rematch against New Zealand in Auckland after injuring his knee during the 27-19 loss to the reigning world champions on Saturday.
The openside flanker went for a scan yesterday to assess the damage, and Robbie Deans, the Wallabies coach, was coy about his prized poacher's availability. "That's a possibility," Deans said when asked if Pocock could miss the Test at Eden Park, where Australia have not won since 1986. The scrum-half, Will Genia, will lead the side against the All Blacks if Pocock fails to recover in time, Deans said.
The All Blacks rarely looked tested against a nervous-looking Australia, with Israel Dagg and Cory Jane crossing for first-half tries and Dan Carter adding 17 points, in front of 76,877 at Sydney's Olympic stadium.
"I'm really pleased that we were able to get that win away from home and even more pleased to make sure they didn't get a point as far as the championship goes," Steve Hansen, the All Blacks' coach, said. "I thought there were some very good displays from our guys."
Pocock was the only injury concern for the Wallabies after the opening match of the expanded Tri Nations tournament, which now also features Argentina. The South Americans lost their first match in the tournament to South Africa in Cape Town on Saturday, going down 27-6.
Morne Steyn – playing in his 38th Test, and his 27th in a row– became the Springboks' most capped fly-half and produced a dominant performance, particularly in front of goal; he also had a hand in two of the three tries scored by the Springboks. The full-back Zane Kirchner, flanker Marcell Coetzee and wing Bryan Habana were the try-scorers.
"From the first one [kick] there in front of the poles, I thought that tonight's the night," Steyn said. "Luckily all went well and all went over."
The Springboks, however, have their own injury problems, with Bismarck du Plessis, the hooker, requiring surgery on his right knee. The 28-year-old been ruled out for the rest of the season after being injured in the opening minutes of Saturday's match. The South African Rugby Union confirmed Du Plessis was diagnosed with knee-ligament damage.
Craig Burden – Du Plessis's Sharks team-mate – has been called up as cover; Adriaan Strauss and Tiaan Liebenberg are the other hookers in the squad. The prop Dean Greyling, lock Juandre Kruger and scrum-half Jano Vermaak have also been added.