While the team turn their attentions to the Rebels clash this Sunday, backrower Jack Dempsey is toiling to get his body right for his return.
The 23-year-old backrower went down with an injury to his hamstring in the dying minutes of the Wallabies’ exhibition match against Alan Jones’ Barbarians FC side, ruling him out of the Spring Tour squad at the end of last year.
Well on the road to recovery, Dempsey said the path has not been an easy one to take.
“Everything surrounding the injury physically can be mended, that’s just a matter of time and work and persistence with the physical therapy. The mental side of it is one-hundred percent the battle,” he said.
“I had the injury in the start of November, so coming to the end of February we are deep into the recovery process. From a mental point of view, it has definitely been the toughest part.”
A tough pill to swallow, Dempsey admits that seeing the results pay off from his intensive rehab programme has kept him positive.
“When you start to get moving a bit more, start running and you start picking up the workload, it starts to get a lot more positive and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Dempsey.
According to the Gordon representative, the biggest burst of motivation has come from within.
“In terms of motivation, I think the biggest one is probably myself. I got to a spot last year with the Wallabies where I felt I proved myself to a lot of people what I can do and how I can play. I think that’s the biggest motivation for me is knowing where I can get to and constantly striving every day to get back to where I was from a physical point of view,” he said.
Dempsey admits he cannot take all the credit for staying on track for a return to the sky blue.
“I’ve had some key people keeping me in a good headspace. I’ve been in constant contact with John Eales who has been really good for me. He has called me a couple of times during the recovery process just to make sure I’m in a good headspace,” said Dempsey.
“A lot of the leaders around the place, particularly Hoops (NSW Waratahs captain Michael Hooper) and Nard (NSW Waratahs vice captain Bernard Foley), have kept tabs on me. You’ve also got guys like Damien Fitzpatrick who’s had serious knee injuries himself and every day he will come in and ask me a few questions and make sure I’m in the right headspace.”
Now tracking nicely with his return to play protocol, Dempsey talks through the processes.
“For the first three months, I’ve been doing predominantly upper body stuff with the surgery. Post-operation, we have to let it heal and allow the tendons of the hamstring to strengthen and attach back onto the bone,” he said.
“Once we hit that three-month mark, we focused a lot more on lower body stuff. At the moment, we are right in the middle of building the strength back up in that left leg.
“You add the running on top of that and we are close to getting back.
“At the moment, we are just ticking the boxes on the progressions and we are on track for a late April return and I am just keeping my mind set on that.”
You may have seen Dempsey running around with the fluorescent trainers’ bib on, delivering the water messages from the coaches’ box to the players in Saturday night’s 34-27 victory against the Stormers at Allianz Stadium.
“That was something I approached (NSW Waratahs coach) Daryl (Gibson) about myself. I was pretty keen to stay involved in that aspect not only because of the gameday knowledge side of things, but also from the atmosphere point of view.
“Being in the stadium with the crowd with the ups and downs of the emotion while the team played – just to feel that while I’m not playing so that when I do come back it’s something that I don’t need to worry about was really positive for me, helping the boys out in that way.”
The Tahs return to Allianz Stadium for Sunday afternoon rugby on March 18th against the Melbourne Rebels. The afternoon fixture will have a curtain raiser played by the NSW Women against the Western Force Women, kick off at 1:30pm (AEDT).
(Article by NSW Waratahs Media Unit on 12/3/18)