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Sefa Naivalu in doubt for Bledisloe opener

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/06/2017 Vince Rugari

Wallabies winger Sefa Naivalu is in doubt for August's Bledisloe Cup opener after suffering a mid-range ankle syndesmosis injury.

Naivalu limped off early in the second half of Australia's scrappy win over Italy on Saturday, just minutes after scoring his second try of the match.

Coach Michael Cheika said the 25-year-old would miss up to seven weeks, ruling him out of the last fortnight of Super Rugby and putting him in a race against time to be fit for the clash against New Zealand in Sydney on August 19.

Naivalu looks the best option of all the Fijian-born flyers who cycled through the wing positions during the Tests against Fiji, Scotland and Italy, with Henry Speight and Eto Nabuli also enjoying game time, and NRL convert Marika Koroibete not getting a look in.

Cheika's Wallaby stocks should be replenished by the time the provincial season concludes with centre Samu Kerevi, who missed the entire series, a chance to also return to fitness for Queensland's clash against the Brumbies on July 7.

Halfback Nick Phipps should also be back on deck for the NSW Waratahs next weekend, but dynamic back-rower Sean McMahon may not recover from his dislocated wrist until international commitments resume.

Cheika confirmed Kurtley Beale, who is returning to the Waratahs after a stint in English rugby, is fit and ready to begin training from early July.

He said the coming weeks would be crucial as Australia seek to defy a worst-ever season by Australian franchises in Super Rugby and an unconvincing June window to end their 14-year Bledisloe Cup drought.

"We've got a plan of how we're going to run from here on in," he said.

"We thought about it at length, using last year's experience as well. There's no doubt that we've trained the guys much harder than they would have been used to in their week-to-week. It has an effect.

"We've got to keep them at that level now for another few weeks at their teams and then try and go up again when we get back into camp."

Only five players from Cheika's 34-man squad didn't see any on-field minutes in June - Koroibete, utility Kyle Godwin, youngsters Tolu Latu and Lukhan Tui, and replacement halfback Jake Gordon.

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