“While it’s extremely disappointing, Tom is the ultimate professional and is already doing everything he can with his rehab to make sure he’s back on the field as soon as possible.”
There were no major injuries to report for the Waratahs after their 45-33 trial victory over the Queensland Reds in Narrabri but several key names including international back-rowers Lachie Swinton and Jack Dempsey weren’t on the team sheet.
Swinton was shown a red card on his Test debut against the All Blacks last year and subsequently received a four-week ban.
Coach Rob Penney confirmed Swinton is “no chance” of taking on the Reds, but he can consider himself a tad unlucky. Had the Waratahs not been forced to cancel their January 30 trial against the Brumbies, Swinton’s four match ban would have elapsed by round one.
Meanwhile, Penney said Dempsey is recovering from appendix surgery and has been taking it easy at training recently but rest assured, there is fire in the belly less than two weeks out from the season. “He was looking like a bit of a caged lion towards the end of last week,” Penney said.
The more complex case, however, is that of winger James Ramm, who had a breakthrough year in 2020. The 22-year-old was one of the Waratahs’ best in Super Rugby AU before earning a call-up to an extended Wallabies squad.
Penney said Ramm came back from Wallabies camp “pretty sore and beaten up” and has been managing a groin injury. “It’s an ongoing issue for him to be fair,” Penney said. “He needs careful management.”
If Ramm isn’t right for round one, the Waratahs could go with Izaia Perese and Alex Newsome on the wings, with Tepai Moeroa (No.12) and Joey Walton (No.13) in the centres.
“The combinations in the midfield are yet to be determined but we’ve got the ability to mix and match really nicely,” Penney said. “Joey Walton stepped up again – what a talent he is – and we know what Izaia can do and what Teps can do. It’s exciting we have the ability to have those three, along with Nobby [Alex Newsome], to build an attack and defence system around.”
Midfielder Lalakai Foketi (shoulder) and hooker Robbie Abel (ankle) are still on the sidelines, while another hooker in Dave Porecki has a neck issue – he was a late scratching from the Narrabri trial – but is said to be improving.
Tom Decent is a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald