Sydney: Australia's vice captain Shane Watson has been ruled out of the first Test against South Africa due to a calf injury, clearing the way for Victoria's Rob Quiney to make his debut against the Proteas at the Gabba.
The Australia all-rounder had been in major doubt to play since Saturday, when he left the ground during the Sheffield Shield match between New South Wales and Queensland in Brisbane with calf soreness.
Watson, absent from the entire Test summer last season due to a calf tear, will now set his sights on regaining fitness for the remaining two matches of the South Africa series in Adelaide and Perth.
Selectors called in Quiney on Sunday night as cover but he will be more than a back-up with Australia not willing to risk Watson in the first of three Tests against the Proteas.
Quiney will become Australia's 429th Test cricketer, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Quiney made an impressive 85 and unbeaten 11 for Australia A against South Africa at the SCG, successfully standing up to Proteas speedster Dale Steyn during a fiery onslaught.
"It was great news but obviously under bad circumstances for Shane so fingers crossed he can get up but I'm just preparing to play just in case," Quiney told SEN radio on Monday.
With Ed Cowan and David Warner set to open against the world No.1-ranked Test nation, Quiney said he expected he would replace Watson at three in the batting order.
"I guess so, yes, but it doesn't faze me too much because in the past I've filled holes in Victoria in a lot of different positions in the batting order. If I get a game I'll be stoked."
Quiney had a brief chat with Australian coach Mickey Arthur upon his arrival at the team hotel but expected to learn more on Monday with team meetings planned.