The blow of a derby loss has been doubled for the Waratahs with news that Jack Dempsey’s season could be over.
Dempsey was driven off the field in a medicab in the 44th minute wearing a leg splint and though the injury is not officially known as yet, coach Daryl Gibson admitted it wasn’t good news.
“At the moment, it doesn’t look good for him,” he said post-match.
“The best case scenario is 8-12 weeks. Unfortunately it could be the season for him, particularly unfortunate when he was coming into some pretty good form.
“He’s off for an MRI but it swelled up pretty quickly which is a good indication there’s something serious going on there.”
Dempsey’s injury was an unlucky twist of fate for the Waratahs, with number eight Jed Holloway finally making it back after nine months out with a shoulder injury.
Holloway, Dempsey and Hooper were the first-choice backrow for moments in 2016, before Holloway’s injury and now it seems it will be another long wait before they are reunited.
The Waratahs also lost milestone man Sekope Kepu to a head knock in the 57th minute, with the prop to go through the usual concussion protocols this week.
Sitting at 1-3 after their 28-12 loss to the Brumbies, Gibson said change was needed and needed quickly.
He foreshadowed backline change after their round three loss to the Sharks but Gibson held fire, with flyhalf Bernard Foley (concussion) on the verge of a comeback, though that ultimately fell just short.
“Things aren’t working currently so you have to really look at what we need to change to get them working, get them clicking,” he said
“We’ve got to pick ourselves back up, get back out and get ourselves out of the hole we’re in.”
Captain Michael Hooper voiced his disappointment, struggling to put his finger on the cause of the Waratahs' problems.
“I’m frustrated because guys are working really hard at training and we’re not getting the pay on the weekend, so it’s hard to think why we put in so much hard work and don’t get the pay,” he said.
“A really good set piece team like the Brumbies - you’re not going to crack them open in the first 20 minutes.
“I expected to be somewhere around where we were in the first half and I was pleased with where we were in the change room and thought we could really get some momentum, but it wasn’t the case.”
The Waratahs have just a six-day turnaround before their next game, against the Rebels on Friday night in Melbourne.