Sport

Sunday 19 November 2017

Wallabies winger Digby Ioane to report to police over assault charge

Australia's Digby Ioane during training this week
Australia's Digby Ioane during training this week

Duncan Bech

An eventful few hours in the Australia camp began with wing Digby Ioane being issued with an arrest warrant and ended with his injury-enforced withdrawal from the remainder of the Test series against the British and Irish Lions.

Less than 24 hours after captain James Horwill had been controversially cleared by a disciplinary hearing of stamping on Alun-Wyn Jones, the Wallabies were stunned to learn that Ioane had missed a court appearance.

The warrant was issued today after the 27-year-old failed to appear to face an unlawful assault charge stemming from an incident in the Melbourne suburb of Prahran on March 9, when he allegedly attacked a man.

The Australian Rugby Union learned of the issue after training today and confirmed in a statement: "Since being made aware through media reports, the ARU has worked expeditiously with Digby Ioane and Victorian Police to attend to this matter.

"Digby will report to Victorian Police and will be issued with a revised court date. No further comment will be made at this time."

The statement was later followed by a second announcing that Ioane's shoulder injury will prevent him from playing any further part in the series, which the Lions lead 1-0 following Saturday's 23-21 triumph in Brisbane.

Pat McCabe has endured the same fate as Ioane after it was confirmed his neck damage has ended his chances of facing the tourists again.

"Ioane suffered internal damage to his right shoulder and will also require further follow-up scans with surgery a possibility," read the statement.

"McCabe re-injured his neck in a similar location to an injury first sustained last year.

"He will be seeing specialists in Sydney in the coming days to ascertain the way forward following further scans."

Berrick Barnes will miss the second Test in Melbourne with concussion, but Christian Leali'ifano could feature after recovering well from his concussion.

Adam Ashley-Cooper is also on course for selection against the Lions this weekend after making encouraging progress with his shoulder problem.

It is a mixed injury update for Australia, who played the final quarter of an epic first Test with a patched-up backline that featured flanker Michael Hooper at inside centre.

They endured a terrible succession of injuries - Leali'ifano, Barnes and McCabe were all carried off - and the loss of Ioane in particular will be keenly felt.

The tackle-busting wing had only just returned from knee surgery and is one of the Wallabies' main strike weapons.

One of the reinforcements summoned yesterday by Australia, flanker George Smith, has declared himself fit to face the Lions after five weeks out with a knee injury.

Smith's Brumbies coach Jake White dismissed his chances of playing on Saturday, but the 32-year-old today described the lay-off as a "blessing in disguise".

"I'm ready to go. There's no confusion about my fitness or my knee injury because it doesn't exist in my mind any more," said the veteran of the 2001 Lions tour Down Under.

"And mentally I definitely feel refreshed. Coming off a Japanese Top League season and then into the Super Rugby 15, the five weeks off has definitely been a blessing in disguise.

"It's allowed me to concentrate on areas that I was lacking, whether it was my fitness or niggling injuries I had."

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