The Wallabies have received some overdue good news on the injury front with Rory Arnold’s declaration of intent offsetting the loss of Scott Sio for the tour of Argentina.
Sio has been ruled out of the opening two Tests of the Rugby Championship against the Pumas in Mendoza on August 7 (AEST) and San Juan on August 14.
The veteran prop injured his shoulder in the second Test against England in Brisbane but was named in Australia’s initial Rugby Championship squad.
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However, Sio did not recover in time to make Friday’s flight to South America, joining fellow looseheads Angus Bell (foot) and Harry Johnson-Holmes (Achilles) in a lengthy Wallabies casualty ward.
Centurion James Slipper is now a nailed-on starter for the Mendoza Test against the strong scrummaging Pumas with former sparky Matt Gibbon in pole position for a fairytale debut off the bench.
Force prop Tom Robertson is travelling to Argentina as Sio’s replacement.
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Given the disruption, Wallabies coach Dave Rennie will be buoyed by Arnold’s positive progress report in his first week of training following his season in France with Toulouse.
The 208cm lock was whistled up as one of three Giteau Law picks after Samu Kerevi threw his lot in with the Australian sevens team at the Commonwealth Games.
“I’ve been on holiday ever since (June) and I was just doing a bit of extras and felt a bit of a calf strain so last week I was rehabbing that,” the 32-year-old said.
“She’s coming good now so good to go. Coming off the England series they’re (Wallabies teammates) going to be fit and ready to go and I’m probably a few steps behind them but I’m confident in my ability and I’ll get up to scratch in no time.”
The other specialist locks in the touring squad are Matt Philip, Darcy Swain and Nick Frost while Jed Holloway and Rob Leota can also play in the second row.
Arnold, who will play his club rugby in Japan next season, was looking forward to matching wits against a Pumas side coached by his former mentor Michael Cheika.
“It’s good to come up against him and that group are obviously coming off some success with the series win over Scotland,” Arnold said.
“All the teams that are coached by Cheik, he wants them to be physical and we will be expecting that next weekend against the Pumas.
“I’ve got a bit of experience now and I’ve played in some big games overseas. I will just try to bring that calm sort of edge about it, and we’ll see how we go.”
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