Australia hit by sickness bug ahead of England clash with Israel Folau and Bernard Foley doubtful

David Pocock is also yet to train this week as he nurses a neck problem, but all three could still play on Saturday

Tuesday 20 November 2018 16:30 GMT
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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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Australia's key attacking talents Israel Folau and Bernard Foley have been struck with a sickness bug, plunging their fitness into doubt ahead of Saturday's autumn international clash with England.

The Wallabies confirmed full-back Folau and fly-half Foley have not trained yet this week as 10 of the travelling contingent – a mix of players and staff – have been laid low by illness.

Back-row forward David Pocock is yet to train this week too due to a neck problem, but Australia are still hoping that the influential trio could be ready come the weekend.

“Israel Folau and Bernard Foley are still recovering from a stomach bug that cropped up at the end of last week,” said an Australia spokesman.

Australia have won just four of 12 Test matches in a trying year, and will be desperate to add another victory in their final international of the campaign against England.

Lock Izack Rodda insisted that the majority of the Wallabies camp have been kept away from those still harbouring any illness.

“I think there's been a few players and a couple of staff unwell, but it's been contained so it's pretty good,” said Rodda.

Folau and Foley are among 10 members of the Australian party suffering from sickness
Folau and Foley are among 10 members of the Australian party suffering from sickness (Reuters)

Pete Samu is primed to slot into Australia's line-up should Pocock miss out through injury.

England boss Eddie Jones insisted he would pay no heed to Pocock's early-week training absence on Monday night, saying, “when I heard it I thought 'here we go again'”.

But Samu was adamant that Australia would not play fast and loose with fitness updates in an attempt to gain a mental advantage in the build-up to Saturday.

“Yeah well Eddie [Jones] probably thinks it's mind games from us, but if he's not right, he's not right,” said Samu.

“He missed training yesterday, so we'll give him every opportunity to be right this week, and go from there.”

Asked how he would approach potentially replacing Pocock, Samu continued: “I'm ready for the challenge, if it comes to that.

“I think the coaches and staff will give Pocock every opportunity to be right for the game. If it comes to that then I'll be good to go.”

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