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Lengthy lay-off for Wallaby lock, Waratahs sweat over speedster

NEWS: Western Force coach Simon Cron says Izack Rodda’s untimely quad injury is hard on the team, and he’ll take a careful approach with the star Wallabies lock.

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Rodda was initially named for last week’s clash with the Hurricanes, but he was forced to withdraw after injuring himself at training just two days before the game.

The 27-year-old, who has been sidelined for most of the past 18 months due to stress fractures in his right foot, won’t be available for Frida’s clash in Melbourne or next week’s encounter with the Brumbies.

Rodda is also unlikely to return for the home matches against Moana Pasifika (March 15) or the Queensland Reds (March 23).

“It’s hard on him, and hard on the team,” Cron said.

“They’re talking about that time [of three to four weeks]. You’ve just got to take it one week at a time with Izack, and make sure he’s getting better each week.”

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Rodda’s injury adds to a growing casualty ward.

Prop Marley Pearce broke his nose last week while attempting a tackle that also resulted in him copping a four-match suspension.

Fellow Force props Siosifa Amone (thumb, five-seven weeks), Harry Hoopert (knee, three-four months) and Angus Wagner (knee, first half of the season) are also missing.

Lock Felix Kalapu (hamstring, first half of the season) and playmaker Reesjan Pasitoa (elbow, nine-11 weeks) are also among the walking wounded.

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The situation in the front row is so bad, Cron has been forced to sign former fringe Crusaders and Chiefs prop Ryan Coxon on an injury-replacement contract.

Coxon has been rushed straight into the starting side as a replacement for Pearce.

“We’ve got three [props] down at the moment,” Cron said.

“You’ve always got to be smart as coaches when you’re tracking [options] No.4 and No.5.

“With Ryan coming in, we knew about him, we were watching him, we just didn’t think we’d have to put him in this quickly.

“We looked around everywhere and he’s probably the most suited to getting in at Super Rugby right now.”

Cron said former All Blacks prop Atu Moli was getting close to playing.

“Atu’s training really well. He’s doing great stuff at tighthead for us,” Cron said.

“It’s just (about) continuing his running loads.

“We think at the moment though he’s really close to being at his best, and we want to make sure he gets there before we play him.”

Nawaqanitawase in doubt

Meanwhile, Sydney Roosters-bound wing Mark Nawaqanitawase is in doubt for the Waratahs’ crunch match with the benchmark Crusaders as a batch of Australian stars return for Super Rugby’s Super Round in Melbourne.

Waratahs coach Darren Coleman has revealed Nawaqanitawase suffered a hamstring strain at training and is doubtful for Saturday night’s showdown with the defending champions.

“He is having scans and receiving treatment, and we will give him until later in the week to prove his fitness,” Coleman said on Wednesday.

“We’re fortunate that Triston Reilly has successfully recovered from his ankle injury, and he will come into the starting side if Mark is unable to play.”

Nawaqanitawase was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise lacklustre display from the Waratahs in their season-opening 40-22 loss to Queensland.

The X-factor attacker set up a try and posed a constant threat to the Reds.

With Wallabies teammate Izaia Perese already ruled out because of concussion protocols, Coleman can hardly losing Nawaqanitawase when his side takes on a Crusaders outfit also coming off a loss and coached by Waratahs discard Rob Penney.

Penney was unceremoniously shown the door after the Waratahs historic winless 2021 season and will surely be plotting revenge.

In better news for the Waratahs, key forwards Hugh Sinclair and Ned Hanigan will make comebacks from injury.

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