Rugby-Wallabies flanker Dempsey ruled out of northern hemisphere tour
SYDNEY, Oct 28 (Reuters) – Australia were left counting the cost of an ugly 31-28 win in an exhibition match over the Barbarians on Saturday, with flanker Jack Dempsey ruled out of the northern hemisphere tour with an apparent hamstring injury.
Dempsey, one of only two starters from last week’s win over the All Blacks named to play in the exhibition match, was assisted off the field late in the second half at Sydney Football Stadium.
“Whatever it is, it’s serious,” Wallabies coach Michael Cheika told local media.
“There’s no doubt he’ll be out of the tour. He’s in a fair bit of pain. It’s unfortunate his season is over.”
Dempsey’s injury is a huge blow for the Wallabies and heart-breaking for the 23-year-old who was man-of-the-match in the upset of the All Blacks in Brisbane last week.
An imposing presence at the breakdown and composed with ball in hand, Dempsey made his test debut against Italy in June but made the blindside flanker position his own with a string of fine performances in the latter half of the Rugby Championship.
Lukhan Tui also suffered a hamstring strain against the Alan Jones-coached Barbarians and fellow lock Rory Arnold is likely to be left off the tour after being forced out of the game with a knee injury.
In one positive for Cheika, all-but-forgotten loose forward Ben McCalman put his hand up for selection with an impressive turn off the bench on his comeback from a horror run of shoulder injuries.
“Ben McCalman put his hand up pretty strongly for a guy who hasn’t played a lot of footy,” Cheika said of the 49-test number eight, in Wallabies colours for the first time since Aug. 2016.
Thirteen of the starting 15 against the All Blacks were rested against the Barbarians, but the effort of the fringe players would have left few comfortable with the Wallabies’ depth as they trailed 21-5 late in the first half.
The Wallabies were still behind late in the final quarter before New Zealand referee Brendon Pickerill killed the contest by yellow carding two Barbarians players in the final 10 minutes.
Sections of the modest crowd jeered and former Wallabies coach Jones, an outspoken talk-back radio pundit, was incensed.
“I just found the whole thing astonishing,” he fumed.
“It’s a Barbarians game and you are playing with 13 men and the bloke kept blowing the whistle.
“You are telling me that’s how you grow the game when people in the grandstand start booing. They are not stupid — they know. It is extraordinary.” (Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)