Jack Dempsey of the Waratahs.
Jack Dempsey of the Waratahs. Mark Kolbe

Wallabies debutant indebted to veterans

RUGBY UNION: Waratahs flanker Jack Dempsey has credited veterans Dean Mumm and Scott Fardy for their role in helping him fulfil his dream.

Dempsey, a hardworking back-rower, is poised to make his debut for the Wallabies on Saturday against Italy in Brisbane after coach Michael Cheika named him on the bench ahead of Richard Hardwick.

The 23-year-old from the Gordon club in Sydney was one of four development players picked for last year's spring tour.

He didn't play a Test but Dempsey impressed his teammates and coaches, Cheika particularly, for his work ethic on the tour.

The promising young loose forward said that the mentoring from Mumm (57 Tests) and Fardy (39 Tests) was invaluable.

"It starts with the guys who were on that tour, Dean Mumm and Scott Fardy, who were obviously the sixes [breakaways] in the squad at the time," Dempsey said.

"For a young bloke like me coming off the back of pretty much my first Super Rugby season, just learning everything they had throughout their long careers was massive.

"Stuff around the set-piece and the line-out was paramount ... and off-the-field stuff was pretty important."

Dempsey was one of the genuine bolters in Cheika's June squad after missing most of the Super Rugby season with a foot injury.

He returned to Super Rugby just before Cheika's May 30 squad announcement, playing 19 minutes off the bench in the Waratahs' 46-31 loss to the Chiefs.

But that was all that Cheika needed to see of his up and coming blindside flanker and Dempsey said it was comforting to have the boss's faith.

"Obviously with the start of the year I had it was pretty disappointing with the injury setback against the Brumbies, so I was counting lucky stars in the end that I got selected because I just came back in time," he said.

"I was out for 10 weeks in the end, so he definitely showed faith by picking me in the squad to begin with and now's it's up to me to get my fitness back and prove I'm actually ready to play Test rugby.

"It would mean everything (to make my debut).

"Obviously ticking the box and fulfilling your dream of actually playing for your country."

Dempsey is one of five forwards on the Wallabies' bench, with Cheika also calling up five-Test front-rower Toby Smith.

News Corp Australia

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