Rugby

Brumbies’ misfiring scrum suffers fresh blow with Slipper scan diagnosis – but help is on its way

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Wallaby prop James Slipper faces an uphill battle to take part in the team’s Super Rugby finals campaign after scans confirmed a calf tear suffered against the Rebels.

Slipper has been reported to have suffered a grade one calf tear – with the usual recovery window of two to four weeks. In better news it appears fellow Wallaby prop Blake Schoupp will be ready to return against the Western Force this weekend.

The Brumbies have a top two spot on the line in Perth and have locked in a home quarterfinal. Slipper’s potential absence comes at a difficult time with Allan Alaalatoa just back from his own injury and the Brumbies’ scrum looking shaky in recent weeks.

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Former Wallaby Tim Horan said Slipper faced a tough road back.

“(Injuries to) calves are really hard to come back from,” Horan said on Stan Sport.

“It’s a high calf strain he thinks, so in behind the top of the knee. They take a while to come back from. 

“You’d think he’d be out next week against the Western Force, but gee, I tell you what, you’d love him back in two weeks’ time but that’s going to be tough.”

Brumbies forward Billy Pollard said the team’s scrum needed to show more, and welcomed Schoupp’s return.

It was noted he’d timed his recovery run well and Pollard joked: “Yeah, it’s a bit suspicious actually.

“He’s been into his rehab lately and he’s been doing really well, so it’s really good to see him back out there.

“[He brings] so much energy, particularly around the scrum. He just absolutely lives for it. It’s really good having guys like that on your team.

“They’ll lock it down or try and get a penalty at least out of it. It’s really exciting to have him back and looking forward to seeing him back out there.

Blake Schoupp  (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

He acknowledged that the scrum performance has fallen short in the past few weeks and Schoupp could it help turn a corner.

“I think it’s obviously going to make a big difference. He’s extremely strong, but it’s just his energy that he brings to the scrum. That energy can make all the difference in the world, particularly in the later stages of the game. 

“We have a lot of guys that have that passion for the scrum, but hopefully we can just show it more going forward.”

The Brumbies still have a chance to finish top of the table, and their former No.10 Matt To’omua believes home games could be crucial to help them overcome the scrum concerns.

“I think the set piece, particularly the scrum, becomes very important when it’s away in New Zealand in June,” To’omua said on The Roar Rugby Podcast.

“You have probably an 80% chance of rain at that time. But if they’re at home, in Canberra, even if it’s a bit wet, it’s usually a really good deck and you can play away from that.

“I feel the Brumbies have almost invested a lot into their open field play and broken field play and that kind of stuff, and maybe taken a little bit off the set piece, almost hoping that they get a home semi.

“It will be interesting. I think it’s less of an issue if they’re at home, just because it’s usually drier. But in Auckland or in Wellington, where it’s very windy and you can’t predict where the ball’s going, unfortunately, I think the scrum will be a bit of an issue.”

“That being said, we are talking about a Wallabies tight head and loose head. I do feel like maybe when push comes to shove, when it’s a big game, they will step up. Yeah, you’d certainly like to hope so.”

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