Playmaker Quade Cooper's hopes of returning for the Wallabies' end-of-season tour have nosedived after his knee surgery was postponed for at least a week.
Cooper's string of bad luck continued on Friday morning when arthroscopic surgery was aborted at the last minute due to a cut near his right knee.
The cut came from a stray stud in a ruck in Saturday night's 23-19 win over Argentina and forced doctors to postpone the operation for fear of infection.
Cooper said the surgery would now take place in a week to 10 days, which dramatically lessens his chances of being fit for the four-Test tour of Europe.
The Wallabies fly out in early November for Paris where they play their first international against France on November 10.
The operation, to clean up a small chip of articular cartilage from the knee he had reconstructed 11 months ago, was expected to sideline him for four to six weeks.
Even with a four-week recovery, he would be racing time to be fit for the start of the tour.
"It's all pretty tight now, but you never know," Cooper told AAP.
In keeping with his cautious approach to his return from the reconstruction, the 38-Test five-eighth said he would not take any risks in rushing back into action.
"I want to make sure I can come back at full strength," he said.
The likely loss of Cooper should be softened by the long-awaited return of fellow playmaker James O'Connor (hamstring), who is due to be fit for the October 20 clash with New Zealand in Brisbane.
His latest injury setback continues a frustrating 2012 for Cooper who missed the June internationals to safeguard his reconstructed knee and was then controversially suspended for Queensland's qualifying final loss to the Sharks.
He started at No.10 in the Wallabies past three Tests but was under pressure to keep his spot following the comeback win over the Pumas after coach Robbie Deans considered dragging him for a string of errors.
Ironically, his biggest mistake - conceding a second-half chargedown try to Pumas flanker Tomas Leonardi - came just two minutes after he copped the knock to his knee.
Cooper said he struggled to run properly for five to 10 minutes and the injury contributed to the chargedown.
"I didn't want to kick it, physically didn't feel I could kick the ball, and I was calling for it to be kicked from halfback," he said.
"It was the worst timing possible."
Cooper joins Wallabies leaders James Horwill, David Pocock and Will Genia on the sidelines.
There is some hope both Horwill and Pocock will return for the November tour while powerful forwards Wycliff Palu and Sekope Kepu may return with O'Connor against the All Blacks.