Doubts linger over fitness of Coleman ahead of crucial England clash

London: Wallabies assistant coach Stephen Larkham insists star second-rower Adam Coleman is on track to play against England but a final decision will not be made until Thursday to determine whether the n enforcer’s thumb will be right for the big match.
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Coleman did not train with the Wallabies in both their Tuesday sessions, sticking instead to light duties.

While the television cameras were turned on at training, Coleman did not take part in a skills exercise run by Mick Byrne where players were required to catch speedy kicks off the boot.

Then, for a drill involving players crashing into tackling bags on the ground, Coleman was seen taking it easy while offering teammates motivation.

Coleman injured his thumb during the 29-21 victory over Wales in Cardiff last weekend, and the Wallabies have not stated yet that he will definitely play.

Larkham sounded positive about Coleman’s availability for the clash at Twickenham but did not give his 100 per cent guarantee the second-rower would be given the green light.

“He’s good actually; he pulled up really well out of the game so he should be good,” Larkham said. “Like [with] most guys, we’re just making sure that we do right by him, so he’s certainly on track to play, there are no issues there.”

Coleman’s session on Thursday

will test whether he can catch footballs without pain, perform regular lineout roles to the standard required and ensure the thumb does not hurt during rucks and tackles.

There is also the belief within the Wallabies camp that gambling on Coleman might not be the worst option, given the England game is the most important of the spring tour and even if he were to re-injure the thumb, are almost at the end of their international season.

The Wallabies, however, do not want to give England any extra intel ahead of a match where so much pride is on the line for coaches Michael Cheika and Eddie Jones.

If Coleman is ruled out, it would be a huge blow for the ns, given that Lukhan Tui is also under a fitness cloud.

After injuring his hamstring in the Wallabies and Barbarians game in Sydney, Tui, a second-rower and back-rower, is in the mix for selection but team officials also won’t make a decision on him until their Thursday field session.

If Tui is cleared to play, he could partner Rob Simmons in the second row, assuming Coleman does not take the field.

That could result in a rookie such as Matt Philip or Blake Enever getting a start on the Wallabies bench.

“Lukhan didn’t train today [Tuesday] with the team and will go through some further assessments over the next couple of days,” Larkham said. “We’ll probably know a bit more on Thursday with Lukhan.”

Injuries aside, the Wallabies are tossing up a positional change involving incumbent No.12 Samu Kerevi and Karmichael Hunt, who came off the bench in Cardiff.

With Kurtley Beale having occupied the No.12 jersey for the best part of the year, Kerevi has had just two games outside No.10 Bernard Foley this season.

However, Hunt’s excellent form at inside-centre during the June series hasn’t been forgotten and against a team like England, his big game experience across different codes might get him over the line at the selection table.

“It’s certainly something we’re considering,” Larkham said. “He added really good impact off the bench. His defence was outstanding, his energy was really good. He didn’t get a lot of carries but he had a really good carry. I think he combined really well with the guys when he came on the field.

“In saying that, Samu also had a really good game defensively. He stepped up. It’s been an area of his game he’s tried to work on and he found his feet in the second half with his carries as well.”

The Wallabies will name their team to face England at 11.30pm AEDT on Thursday.

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