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Rugby Union: OUCH!; OUT: Sullivan suffered a bad shoulder muscle tear OUT: Bateman pulled a hamstring in second half OUT: Thomas suffered a foot injury early in game.

Byline: HUGH STEPHENS

GRAHAM Henry is facing a fresh injury crisis as Wales prepare to take on world champions Australia.

Henry lifted some of the storm clouds which had gathered over his head by watching his team beat Tonga 51-7 at the weekend.

But three players from that starting line-up - Anthony Sullivan, Allan Bateman and Iestyn Thomas - were last night ruled out of Sunday's clash against the Aussies and Henry admitted: ""We are struggling.

"I haven't known injury problems like this since I came into the job. We've got a lot of experienced players out injured at the moment - especially in the backs - and it's hurting.

""Anthony Sullivan's is the most serious injury and he must be the sixth international wing who is now unavailable. But we just have to get on with it and work hard and make sure we are ready for the world champions."

Former rugby league star Sullivan could be sidelined for three months after badly tearing a muscle in his shoulder in only his second cap.

Bateman, 36, pulled a hamstring and will miss out on a 36th cap against the Wallabies, while prop Thomas suffered a foot injury.

Henry is likely to move Swansea's Lions tourist Darren Morris to the loose-head and start with Cardiff's Spencer John in place of Thomas.

Cardiff youngster Jamie Robinson is set to start for Bateman, with Newport's Andy Marinos coming onto the bench. Sullivan's place in the squad could go to Pontypridd wing Gareth Wyatt.

The Aussies followed up their defeat to England at Twickenham by losing to France, but Henry insisted: "I don't think either of those victories have done us any favours.

"The Australians are a proud sporting nation and they will be very determined not to go down to a third successive defeat."

The victory over Tonga has eased the pressure on Henry for the time being, but he confessed: "Last week was a difficult one for me and the whole squad.

"But I don't want to dramatise it. Being coach is a job that brings pressure with it and maybe more pressure in Wales because everyone feels closer to the job.

"That's just the way it is. It's part of the deal and I accept it."

Skipper Scott Quinnell has shaken off a reaction to his recent knee operation and fellow Lion Rob Howley will also be fit to face the Aussies after treatment.

Quinnell said: "It is going to be a huge step-up for us, but it is a challenge we look forward to."

CAPTION(S):

WORRIES: Henry; OUCH: Allan Bateman is stopped by a high tackle from Tongan Christopher Hala'ufia: CELEBRATING: Iestyn Harris and Rhys Williams
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 19, 2001
Words:444
Previous Article:Rugby Union: We were awful, admits Jones; France 14 Australia 13.
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