Dempsey's arduous journey to a Wallabies debut

by Sam Phillips

In an injury riddled and at times, dark year, Jack Dempsey is soaking up every bit of joy that comes from the "little win" that is a potential Wallabies debut.

The 23-year-old flanker has played little football in 2017, having suffered an ankle injury while playing for the Waratahs against the Brumbies in March.

Since then he has played just 20 minutes of Super Rugby and a smattering of minutes with Gordon in the Shute Shield.

That lack of rugby meant even Dempsey was surprised when his named was called by Michael Cheika for the June series.

So to get a nod in the 23 caps a high point of an otherwise forgettable year for the Riverview product.

"On the wider spectrum it's obviously been a huge goal of mine since I was a little kid," he said of playing for the Wallabies.

"On a smaller base it's good to get a win - obviously it hasn't been the greatest year for me in terms of battling a few demons with injury and off the field there.

"There were times there when I felt like I couldn't throw a lot of punches and I was having a lot thrown at me.

"It's a little win for me in that area but on the bigger picture representing Australia is obviously something I have done as a schoolboy and at the U20s so to hopefully tick that box for the Wallabies, it's a dream come true really."

Dempsey is confident he has what it takes to make an impact at Test level, despite the minutes shortage this year.Jack Dempsey is eager to make the most of a potential debut tomorrow. Photo: Walmsley"The big question mark is that I haven't played Test footy - the closest I have come is training on Spring Tour last year and training now in the squad for June," he said.

"The first week down in Melbourne I flew up and played some club footy to get some more game time under my belt.

"Cheik really wanted me to just get some more game time and now he's obviously pulled the trigger because he feels I'm fit enough to go out there and play at Test level."

Dempsey will, in all likelihood, come on for Ned Hanigan late in the Test against Italy.

Hanigan has been the star rookie of 2017 after Dempsey put his case forward with a strong 2016 season but the debutant said there was no animosity between the pair, despite both playing the same position and coming from the same club. There's no animosity between Ned Hanigan and Dempsey. Photo: Walmsley"We are good mates off the field - we have been for a few years now," he said.

"So we're both really supportive of each other and helping each other a lot in that way.

"We're very different players.

"I think what he brings to the table and what I bring to the table is very different things.

"Within the Wallabies organisation over the past three weeks we have spent a lot of time going over the six role because we're the two sixes in the squad and that's been awesome.

"Bringing it from the Waratahs season straight into the Wallabies, there is no sort of negative competition between us."

The Wallabies take on Italy on Saturday, kicking off at 3pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RADIO. Buy tickets here