Waratahs Test rookies vow to repay faith

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Jack Dempsey and Ned Hanigan have been thrown right into the Wallabies mix at the expense of two of their biggest role models, but the youngsters are ready to repay Michael Cheika’s faith.

Dempsey and Hanigan are the clear blindside options for the June Series squad, picked over the experienced incumbents Dean Mumm and Scott Fardy, as Cheika looked towards 2019.

The biggest surprise in the pair was Dempsey, who has played just half an hour of Shute Shield since breaking his foot in March.

Dempsey said Fardy had been one of his biggest influences on last year’s Spring Tour, when he was one of four development players on tour.

Jack Dempsey wants to be back in action for the Waratahs. Photo: Getty ImagesWhile they won’t have him around at least for the start of this series, Dempsey said he was just on focused on putting everything in.

“These guys are well-established for a number of years and not having them in there is definitely lacking a lot of experience and leadership and guys pointing in the right direction,” he said.

“I know Scott Fardy was a big influence on me on Spring Tour in terms of just the one-on-one tips he would give me on and off the field.

“In saying that, we’re not going to shy away at all in terms of that side of it, we don’t lack any confidence in ripping in and having a dig.”

Hanigan said there was certainly no sense of entitlement after being named in the squad, knowing that players like Fardy and Mumm are still around.

“I haven’t had much to do with Fards but Dean has been such a role model for me,” he said.

“Everything on and off the field, he gives you those little tips, tricks of the trade. He’s been doing it for so long .

“You still look up to those guys ,they’re experienced in what they do.

“It’s definitely a shock but I think Jack and I know those guys, they’re still playing good footy, we’re not taking this opportunity for granted.

"We know we have to take it with both hands and hopefully get re-selected I guess."

Hanigan couldn’t hide the surprise at his selection, even a day after finding out the news at dinner in Queenstown.

“We just met up, were having a yarn and hooking into a bit of pizza and I think Jed (Holloway) was the bloke that turned to me and put his hand out and went, ‘Congrats’ and I didn't really know what he was talking about,” he said.

“Then Kells (Waratahs back Andrew Kellaway) and those guys started saying, ‘it’s official’ and stuff like that.

“It was pretty exciting - was shocked and nervous and all the rest of it - was a pretty good feeling really.”

Hanigan has played mainly second row, but is seen exclusively as a backrow option for the Wallabies.

The Waratahs take on the Chiefs this Saturday night, kicking off at 5:35pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS.