Despite a clinical performance, Australia suffered several injuries to key players in their 67-5 win over USA in Wellington on Friday.
In a hard-hitting encounter, coach Robbie Deans saw his starting centres and a replacement midfielder all taken off with serious injuries as the Wallabies ran in eleven tries to one.
Rob Horne was first to depart the field eight minutes into the second-half with a fractured cheekbone sustained in the first tackle he made after the break.
His replacement Pat McCabe then dislocated a shoulder in the 66th minute - although “it went back in pretty quick”, according to Deans. His place on the pitch was taken by hooker Stephen Moore with no more backs on the bench.
Finally, outside centre Anthony Fainga’a - who scored a brace of tries - was knocked clean out when he took a knee to the head while attempting a tackle in the last minute of the game.
He received several minutes of on-field treatment before being taken off on a stretcher.
Number eight Wycliff Palu also suffered a hamstring problem while full-back Kurtley Beale was subbed at the end of the first period as “a precaution after he felt he was tightening up”, said Deans.
“It’s pretty extensive,” the coach said of the injury count, not ruling out calling up a replacement or two.
“We may have to,” the former All Black added.
“We’ll see what the medics say before we make that sort of decision.
“It’s part of the game. Obviously it would be better to avoid them but that’s how it happens.”
Injury-toll aside, Deans was content with the performance of Berrick Barnes, who dropped into fly-half as Quade Cooper moved to full-back in Beale’s absence.
Barnes offered a steadying hand that had deserted the mercurial Cooper in the early stages of the match, although the Auckland-born playmaker showed some nice touches later in the game.
“Berrick played well, it was good to see him back out there,” said Deans.
“He kicked well so that was one positive. Some other players also got some rugby who haven’t of late.
“We were pleased (with the result). It wasn’t perfect, but there are elements in that game which we made good progress on.
“They maintained their momentum and approached the game with a slightly better mentality, with a bit more discipline in their decisions.”
Deans praised his pack for making the most of a dominant set-piece, notably at scrum-time.
“They didn’t chase the rainbow, they adjusted their approach and as a result put the pressure on. We got the ball in and applied the pressure,” said Deans.