Wycliff Palu speaks to the media in Hanmer Springs about his injury and early edparture from the squad

Wallabies No 8 Wycliff Palu is returning to Australia. The 29 year-old limped out of his 38th Test match last weekend in Wellington after suffering the reoccurrence of a hamstring strain in his left leg. Scans in Christchurch yesterday revealed the extent of the damage.

Given the reoccurrence of the injury, Palu is expected to require six weeks of rehabilitation before he would be fit to be considered for selection again. Unfortunately this time frame rules him out of further participation in the Rugby World Cup which has prompted the selectors to release him from the squad.

“It’s bad luck for Wycliff. Unfortunately his previous history of injury in this area has impacted, in terms of lengthening the timelines that are required for his rehabilitation,” Wallabies coach Robbie Deans says.

While Palu will be replaced in Australia’s 30-man squad, Deans says the selectors will be taking their time with that decision, and may even delay any call until after this weekend’s final Pool match against Russia in Nelson, so they can determine at that point what the team’s specific needs are.

Lock Dan Vickerman and fullback Kurtley Beale also underwent scans in Christchurch yesterday. Vickerman was cleared of any problems in his leg.

Beale, who left the field during the first half of last week’s 67-5 win over the United States, was diagnosed with a minor hamstring strain which will see him rested from this weekend’s final pool match in order to get him ready for a possible quarter-final the following weekend.

Midfielders Pat McCabe (shoulder), Anthony Fainga’a (head) and Rob Horne (cheek) also left the field during Australia’s third pool match. Fainga’a is following the IRB concussion protocols required by tournament and could be available for Australia’s next match.

Although McCabe and Horne will miss Saturday’s historic game against Russia, the timelines have been established for their return to playing duties, and they will both be remaining with the squad.

McCabe, who has made considerable progress with his injury since last weekend, is expected to be fit for consideration for a possible quarter-final appointment, while a possible semi-final (should Australia qualify) has been set as the return date for Horne after he underwent scans in Christchurch on Sunday. Although unavailable to play, Horne will run with the squad during its public training in Hanmer Springs this afternoon.

Winger Digby Ioane is continuing his rehabilitation from the dislocated thumb he sustained in Australia’s opening match of the tournament against Italy, and is on-track to be available should the Wallabies qualify for the quarter-finals.

Flankers David Pocock (back) and Scott Higginbotham (back), winger James O’Connor and lock James Horwill (shoulder) are all expected to be available for selection for Australia’s next match at the tournament.