The Wallabies seemingly are about to confront a moment they have been dreading all the way through the World Cup, the loss of one of their irreplaceable players, fullback Kurtley Beale, for Sunday’s do-or-die clash with the All Blacks.
At the start of the campaign, it was widely thought there were only four players the Wallabies simply couldn’t do without – Beale, halves Will Genia and Quade Cooper and the ball-pilfering flanker David Pocock.
Even inspirational captain James Horwill was not regarded as falling into that category, not with an experienced veteran such as Nathan Sharpe waiting in the wings, although that perception would surely have changed after Horwill’s powerhouse display against the Springboks.
The pool-round loss to Ireland elevated Stephen Moore to that list as well, with his absence that night exposing just how heavily the team relies on him at scrum time.
And after his nerveless display of goal kicking on Sunday, few would argue against James O’Connor also earning an “indispensable” rating.
It’s not yet certain that Beale will be missing against the All Blacks.
Scans have revealed a low-grade hamstring tear suffered against the Boks, and the Wallabies medical staff is working on him around the clock in a bid to have him ready to play.