The Waratahs will start Israel Folau at outside centre this weekend against the Rebels after Rob Horne was ruled out for six weeks with a broken hand.
Horne suffered the injury in the Waratahs 13-15 victory over the Reds in Brisbane and it has now been confirmed that he fractured a bone in his hand just before half-time.
Compounding the Waratahs injury woes is that hooker Tolu Latu was also injured in the match and will be on the sidelines for 6-8 weeks with a torn hamstring.
Waratahs coach says Horne’s injury was a “a real blow for him” and due to the injury Folau will start at outside centre, Kurtley Beale will move to fullback and David Horwitz will return to inside centre.
“That’s the configuration I chose at half-time when I had to replace Rob,” Gibson told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“It’s about trying to fit our best players on the field at one time and that configuration was Horwitz at 12 and Folau at 13. That allows us to play Kurtley at fullback.”
“Having time off and away from rugby is not always ideal, but injuries do happen and it’s unfortunate for him.”
Meanwhile’ Latu’s hamstring injury will see Hugh Roach making his starting debut this weekend.
“Hugh gets his opportunity to come into the team and then we’re looking at reinforcing our hooking ranks with Folau Faingaa,” Gibson said.
“Injuries are all part of the game (so) I’m not too worried by them. We’ve just got to get on with it and worry about the people that we’ve got still in the jersey.”
The Waratahs struggled in the scrums against the Reds and even conceded a penalty try and Gibson said that Benn Robinson’s impact off the bench could see him replacing front-rowers Paddy Ryan or Angus Ta’avao this week.
“Benn continues to work his way back to full fitness and I think as he continues to be more consistent on the training field he’ll come into contention for a starting sport,” Gibson said.
“I’m very pleased to come out of that game with the four points.”
“We’ve lost two games to a couple of tough teams in the competition and then won against the Reds who are definitely improving,” he said.
“It’s shown us where we need to improve and if we’re going to produce and be a threat in the competition.”