Wallabies can go to the next level after Brisbane breakthrough: Dempsey

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies flanker Jack Dempsey says the team is ready to take the next step, after shaking off some mental shackles in Brisbane.

Eight weeks on from a heartbreaking loss in the dying minutes in Dunedin, and with only draws to come out of their two Springboks match ups this year, Australia desperately needed a victory in the most intense scenario.

Where they erred in August, the Wallabies were steady in October and Dempsey said it proved the journey they had taken through the Rugby Championship.

“We've lost a few in the clutch moments and I think tonight’s game was all about where we are now, how we've changed, how we've developed from a mental point of view,” he said.

“That's obviously where we feel we've strengthened a lot in the last few weeks and we're ready to go to the next level.”

Dempsey  was handed an opportunity on last year’s Spring Tour, playing as a development player, but played just three Super Rugby games this season.

Watching on for much of the year after breaking his leg, Dempsey thought he had lost his chance, a victim of brutal timing, before being a surprise call-up to the June Series squad, coming off the bench against Italy.

His next breakthrough moment came in Bloemfontein, his first Test start, before an outstanding performance in Mendoza and another star turn in Brisbane..

“I dwelled on it a bit when I was injured, sitting on the sidelines, thinking about what could've been and I was pretty negative about it all,” he said.

“I think looking back now is it's been a big learning year for me.

“I had a good chance to take an opportunity when I was given my first start in Bloemfontein and for me, that's what it's all about.”

His first Bledisloe, though, was another prospect altogether, though Dempsey had little time to be preoccupied with nerves.

“I don't think i've ever been that nervous in my life (than I was before the game), to be honest,” he said.

“I found myself out there marking like three blokes at one point and they all were numbers 11+, which can be a bit daunting, but they're a great side.

”I think it's a great learning thing for me as well, just in terms of preparation, just treating each game the same and it's pretty fantastic feeling afterwards.”

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said Dempsey had taken steps as a person as a player since coming onto the tour last year.

“He’s growing as a person off the field as well within our squad and also as a player on the field given the opportunities,” he said.

“We took him away last year on a development tour and I think that’s been very well validated by what he’s done since he’s come back.

“It was hard for him to get on a roll early but since he’s got his fitness right, he’s had some good performances and let’s hope he keeps going forward from here.”

The Wallabies fly to Sydney on Sunday night ahead of next Saturday’s clash with the Barbarians at Allianz Stadium.