The Wallabies’ horror second Test build-up has sunk to new depths with a warrant issued for the arrest of star winger Digby Ioane.
Injury was added to insult for Ioane late on Monday as he was officially ruled out of the remaining two British and Irish Lions Tests with a shoulder problem that may require surgery while centre Pat McCabe (neck) won’t play for the rest of the series either.
Fullback Berrick Barnes (concussion) will also miss Saturday’s Test in Melbourne but will be considered for the Sydney fixture in a fortnight.
Ioane was with his Wallabies teammates at training on Monday but should have been at the Melbourne Magistrates Court.
A warrant was issued just after 4pm after the 35-Test flyer failed to appear to face an unlawful assault charge stemming from an incident in a Prahran pub on March 9.
Ioane wasn’t charged at the time, but was stood down by the Queensland Reds for one week after details emerged he and his older brother were involved in a scuffle reportedly over an iPhone at the Mount Erica Hotel.
The same weekend he was pictured with fellow Wallabies Kurtley Beale, James O’Connor and Quade Cooper, as well as AFL superstar Lance Franklin, sporting gangster poses in a rooftop spa.
Victorian police formally charged Ioane on summons on May 17, when the 27-year-old was on tour in South Africa with the Reds. He returned home with a knee injury three days later.
While the warrant took the Wallabies completely by surprise on Monday, it’s an unwanted distraction ahead of their must-win second Test.
Nursing his shoulder injury from the 23-21 first Test loss, Ioane was pictured joking with teammates at Carlton’s Visy Park before the matter was mentioned briefly in court at 1600 AEST.
In a statement, the Australian Rugby Union said they had “worked expeditiously” with Ioane and Victorian Police.
“Digby will report to Victorian Police and will be issued with a revised court date,” the statement read.
The end to the day was in contrast to the start when veteran flanker George Smith fronted the media to declare his fitness for a fairytale return to the Wallabies squad.
Smith starred as a 20-year-old in the last Lions tour here in 2001, playing a key role as Australia fought back from 1-0 down to claim an historic first series win.
If the 110-Test great is selected ahead of Liam Gill or Michael Hooper he will become the first player in the professional era to face the Lions in two separate Test series.
In more positive injury news, medical staff are confident centre Adam Ashley-Cooper (shoulder) and Christian Lealiifano (head knock) will be available for the second Test.
The Wallabies will still need a significant backline reshuffle for Melbourne and coach Robbie Deans may consider playing Kurtley Beale at five-eighth, moving Israel Folau to fullback and pushing James O’Connor out to the wing while the likes of Nick Cummins, Joe Tomane and Luke Morahan will come under consideration for the other vacant wing spot.