Kiwi prop Sam McKendry will miss the rest of the Gillette Four Nations after severely breaking his jaw in today’s 36-0 shutout of Wales at Wembley Stadium in London.
The 22-year-old Penrith front rower had surgery this morning after being taken from the field following a heavy 54th-minute collision in a tackle by Welsh forward Craig Kopzcak.
Kiwi team doctor Simon Mayhew said McKendry had suffered multiple fractures of his jaw. He is expected to stay in hospital for up to two nights and will fly home to Sydney as soon as possible.
Arriving at the same hospital a little later was Australian fullback Billy Slater, who was forced off with a broken collarbone early in the Kangaroos’ contest against England, the feature game of today’s doubleheader.
When McKendry left the field the Kiwis were down to two fit players on the bench, having lost interchange prop Fuifui Moimoi with an ankle injury in just the 23rd minute. Moimoi lasted just six minutes after coming on for McKendry but he is expected to be available for the Kiwis’ final round-robin match against England in Hull next Saturday.
With the Kangaroos beating the Kiwis 26-12 last week and England 36-20 today, the England-New Zealand encounter at KC Stadium will be a sudden-death game to find the Australians’ opponents in the final at Elland Road on November 19.
Today’s results leave the Kiwis and England with a win and a loss each as well as exactly the same points for and against difference of plus 22 (the Kiwis have scored 48 points and conceded 26 while England has 62 points for and 40 against).
The Kiwis have a pool recovery session in London tomorrow morning and will stay in the city until Tuesday before travelling to their next base in Leeds.
Slater Also Ruled out of Tournament
Slater, who was voted international player of the year earlier this week, was helped off the pitch after 11 minutes after he cracked his right clavicle trying to prevent England winger Ryan Hall from giving the hosts the lead.Billy Slater also underwent surgery this morning to repair the broken collarbone he sustained in Australia’s victory over England.
Australia physio Tony Ayoub confirmed the injury would sideline the Melbourne fullback for up to two months but coach Tim Sheens said he would allow Slater to remain with the rest of the squad in the UK if he wanted to.
“I’ll leave it up to him and his wife to decide what he wants to do,” Sheens told AAP.
“It is a bit of a blow for us losing him as he is a great player, but Darius Boyd is a more than adequate replacement.”
Ayoub said Slater knew straight away he had damaged his collarbone.
“It is a bad injury, you could see it (the collarbone) sticking from the skin,” Ayoub said.
“But he is a tough kid. It’s a painful injury, but he never moaned or complained.
“He just came off calmly, and knew exactly what was wrong.
“He’ll go under the knife later today but I would anticipate he would be back for the start of the NRL season next year.”
Tries from Luke Lewis, Tony Williams, Greg Inglis, Paul Gallen, Boyd and Chris Lawrence sealed the win in front of a crowd of 42,344.
England competed well for most of the game, but were made to pay for making simple errors, despite two tries to Hall and four-pointers for Chris Heighington and Jack Reed.
Johnathan Thurston was superb for the Kangaroos, kicking six goals and producing a dominant display from halfback.
However, Williams faces a nervous wait to see if he will be charged by the match review committee after being put on report for a high shot on Ben Westwood.
England coach Steve McNamara slammed the decision not to send off Williams and was upset after Tom Briscoe’s try was disallowed in the second half for a double-movement.
TV replays showed Briscoe’s elbow didn’t touch the ground and the try should have counted, much to McNamara’s dismay.
“It was a wrong decision, poor decision as simple as that,” McNamara said.
“As I believe was the decision not to send off Tony Williams. That was a dead-set red card.”
Sheens admitted there were some controversial rulings, but said the decision to rule out the try was correct, as there had been a forward pass in the build-up.
He also claimed it was right to keep Williams on the field.
“At the end of the day I think the players decided the game,” Sheens said.
“I don’t think it was a send-off, but of course I am the Australia coach.
“It was a very tough match for us, but the players deserve credit for doing so well with our main fullback off the pitch.”