The Wallabies were dealt a cruel blow on Monday with news that wing Digby Ioane has sustained a fracture to his right thumb.
Ioane suffered the injury during Sunday's 32-6 win over Italy in Australia's opening match of the World Cup.
The injury occurred with approximately 20 minutes of play remaining, when the Australian wing accidentally came into contact with the boot of his Italian counterpart, Mirco Bergamasco - as he attempted to cover a grubber kicked in behind the Australian line.
As Ioane tried to scoop up the ball, his thumb was struck by the boot of Bergamasco, who was attempting to toe the ball further down-field.
Ioane will be operated on and will remain with the Wallabies in New Zealand.
The Wallaby medical staff said he is expected to be available to play again later in the tournament, although the exact timelines on when he might be able to return will not be known until after the joint has been operated on, and his rehabilitation from the injury has begun.
Ioane has been the form wing, playing a pivotal role for the Reds in their Super Rugby tournament victory as well as Australia's triumph in the Tri-Nations.
He has played all six Tests for the Wallabies this year, after missing almost the entire 2010 international season due to a shoulder injury.
Ioane's injury may open the door for Drew Mitchell to return to the Wallabies starting side, after the Waratahs' wing fractured his ankle in April during a Super Rugby derby against the Reds.
It could also give Anthony Faingaa a selection reprieve, with the Reds centre widely tipped to make way for James O'Connor in the side to face Ireland on Saturday at Eden Park in Auckland.
Should Ioane be ruled out, Faingaa may keep his position at outside centre with Adam Ashley-Cooper shifting out to the left wing.
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