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Darwin ruled out of World Cup
Julian Linden in Sydney | November 17, 2003 23:59 IST
Australia prop Ben Darwin has been ruled of Saturday's rugby World Cup final and could face surgery after injuring his neck in his team's 22-10 semi-final win over New Zealand.
Darwin was stretchered off the field and rushed to a Sydney hospital after a scrum collapsed in the second half of Saturday night's match.
He underwent a series of scans and tests and the Australian team's doctor, Martin Rafferty, told reporters on Sunday that Darwin had suffered a prolapsed disc in his neck which was touching his spinal cord.
"If it [the injury] doesn't settle down of its own accord, it will require surgery," Rafferty said.
"At this stage our major concern is just making sure the acute injury is fine. After further investigation we will address the other issues, but at this stage we need to let the dust settle," he said.
Darwin, who can play both loosehead and tighthead prop, but has mostly played at tighthead this season, complained that he had lost all feeling in his arms and legs after the scrum buckled down on him.
"I heard a crack and immediately called out 'neck, neck, neck' and to his credit [New Zealand prop] Kees Meeuws stopped pushing, which was fortunate because I lost feeling in my body and he could have really crashed me into the ground," Darwin said in a statement released by the Wallabies.
"It was terrifying, but the medical staff did a great job of getting me into the right position and then I felt pins and needles in my arms and legs, which was a great relief," he said.
The match was held up for almost seven minutes as paramedics carefully put Darwin's neck in a brace before taking him from the field on a motorised cart.
Rafferty said Darwin had regained movement by the end of the match, but the scans revealed the prolapsed disc, which will force him to stay in hospital for a few days for observation.
"In the ambulance on the way to hospital the staff were nice enough to put the game on the radio so I could hear what was going on. Great to see the boys finish the match off," Darwin said.
"I'll be in hospital for a couple of days at least while they monitor my condition, but the doctors are happy with my progress so far," he said.
There was better news for the rest of Australia's players, who are all expected to be available for next week's final against either France or England.
A number of players, including captain George Gregan, try-scorer Stirling Mortlock, hooker Brendan Cannon and lock Nathan Sharpe were nursing bumps and bruises after the game, but none is considered serious.