The NSW Waratahs could be without captain Jake Gordon for the rest of the Super Rugby AU season after the severity of his ankle injury was confirmed.
The halfback could miss up to eight weeks with a high ankle sprain after falling awkwardly in a tackle as the Queensland Reds piled on the points in a Super Rugby record 41-7 win last week.
A full eight week layoff would mean Gordon’s return would be for the Waratahs’ final home-and-away fixture on April 24.
Centre Joey Walton also suffered a serious ankle injury and will consult a specialist before a return to play is forecast.
Exciting recruit Izaia Perese, Walton’s partner in the centres against the Reds, is suspended for three games after a red card for a dangerous tackle.
It leaves an already inexperienced squad – missing more than 1500 Super Rugby caps of departures over the past two seasons – even lighter in that department for their trip to Canberra to face the defending champion Brumbies on Saturday.
More responsibility will fall on the shoulders of 21-year-old No.10 Will Harrison as a result.
But, having progressed through the junior national set-up together, Brumbies playmaker Noah Lolesio will be wary of a wounded opponent.
Lolesio wore the No.12 alongside five-eighth Harrison for the Australian schoolboys side in 2017 and again in the under-20s World Cup in 2019.
And they shape as the most likely rivals to Wallabies’ first-choice No.10 James O’Connor in the lead-up to the 2023 World Cup.
“We’re expecting them to be hurting and they’re a better team than what they showed us in round one and they’ll come out firing,” Lolesio said.
“Harro is a good mate; we’ve grown up playing footy together and it’s awesome to see him going well at the Tahs.”
“It’s hard as young playmakers coming through the system, so I’m happy for him.”
The Brumbies began their season with a hard-earned 27-11 defeat of the Western Force in Perth on Friday.
“The Force were a very good team but we left a lot of opportunities out there as well,” Lolesio said.