Australia has lost Karmichael Hunt for their opening Bledisloe Cup Tests after he had to undergo ankle surgery.

Hunt made his Test debut for the Wallabies last month and was one of the most impressive players in games against Fiji, Italy and Scotland in June. However, he was absent when the team met on Monday to prepare for two Tests against New Zealand in August and coach Michael Cheika said that he is expected to be out for 6 to 8 weeks.

“He ended up having a small operation on a syndesmosis injury so he’s got nothing doing for the first 10 days and then we’ll start working on him and his fitness level so as soon as he’s ready to go he’s straight back in,” Cheika said.

As a result, the team’s inside centre spot is open and recalled Kurtley Beale and Reece Hodge are the most likely people to take the No. 12 jersey for the game against the All Blacks on 19 August.

Cheika has brought together a 38-man squad for a training camp in the New South Wales port city of Newcastle. The squad will be joined later this week by another eight Brumbies players following their 35-16 loss to the champions Wellington Hurricanes last Friday.

The upcoming Test comes as there is a sense of crisis in Australian rugby after the country’s five teams failed to beat a single New Zealand opponent in 26 matches this season.

Cheika said one of the aims of the training camp is to make the Wallabies more mentally prepared for facing the All Blacks,

“The first couple of weeks of our preparation has to be able to get us to the physical and mental level where we believe we can go out there and win the game,” he said.