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Waratahs coach reveals extent of Wallaby centre's neck injury

UPDATE: A loss to Super Rugby Pacific rivals Queensland Reds has been softened by the positive outlook for star centre Lalakai Foketi, who could be back at the franchise within a week.

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The Wallabies centre was hospitalised last Thursday after hurting his neck at training.

Some fears were allayed when initial scans cleared the 29-year-old of major spinal damage.

The forecast improved again when he was able to leave hospital on Friday and watch Saturday’s season-opener from home.

Coach Darren Coleman said Foketi had suffered ligament damage to his neck.

And the coach said he could be back, performing light exercise in a neck brace, at their Daceyville base within a week.

“He watched the game from home, there’s some ligament damage in the neck,” Coleman said, thanking all those who had sent messages of support.

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“He’ll go through that, see a neuro specialist next week but he should be in and around the place sometime next week or the week after to start rebuilding from there.

“All in all, he’s in good spirits.”

The Waratahs failed to match the Reds on a wet Brisbane night on Saturday, beaten 22-40.

The Reds turned the ball over 14 times but caused plenty of issues around the ruck and in set piece, the Waratahs’ usually reliable line-out picked off by Reds captain Liam Wright.

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Coleman tipped his cap to the Reds and blamed his side’s poor execution for their inability to keep up after the lead changed six times in the first half.

It gets no easier for Coleman’s side, up against the Crusaders, Highlanders and Blues in the next three weeks.

“I’m excited to play the Crusaders next week; coming off a loss too, they’ll be pretty fired up,” captain Jake Gordon said of their Melbourne Super Round assignment.

“We’ve got some stuff to improve on and learn.

“If we can do a little bit more of what we did in that first half tonight [Saturday] we’ll have a crack.”

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