Devastated Wallabies prop Matt Dunning is adamant the Achilles injury which will sideline him for the Super 14 season won’t end his career.
RugbyHeaven Aus reports that Dunning and fellow forward Sekope Kepu were two casualties on an otherwise promising spring tour for the Wallabies, both injured in their side’s win against the Barbarians at Wembley.
Dunning is yet to see the specialist but his snapped Achilles tendon is likely to sideline him for up to nine months, while Kepu hopes to recover from a pectoral injury in time for next year’s Waratahs’ Super 14 campaign.
There was speculation that Dunning, just one appearance shy of 100 for the NSW, may never be able to play again. However, the 29-year-old is confident of overcoming the setback, pointing to the successful return of All Black front-rower Greg Somerville from a similar injury.
“It’s like a gun shot,” Dunning said of the moment his Achilles snapped.
“I’ve heard people explain it before and it felt exactly like that, so I knew straight away. You’re just devastated.
“Surprisingly it didn’t hurt that much when it snapped but you’re just devastated because you know what sort of injury this is for a front-rower.
“I’m pretty confident of coming back. There’s no doubt it’s probably going to be a long road back but I’ll speak to my specialist today and probably look to get operated on early in the week.
“I’m positive I’ll be back.” He added tongue-in-cheek: “They say six to nine months, these things, but I’m a fast healer, maybe four to six.”
The Wembley surface for the Barbarians game has been roundly criticised as not being up to scratch. Kepu described the turf as “not a good surface for rugby”.
“It was funny, because Matt had a go leaning against the goalpost and was sinking into the ground,” Kepu said.
“It was like carpet, it just rolled up and peeled backwards. It’s not a good surface for rugby, really.”
Injuries aside, the Wallabies players believe they made significant improvements to their game on the tour. They won four of six matches, losing to New Zealand and Wales.
“You’d always like to go away and come back undefeated but, having said that, the development and growth of the guys on tour was outstanding,” captain Stirling Mortlock said.
“Now we can put our feet up knowing full well we’ve had a decent year.”
Mortlock said the Wallabies had improved under coach Robbie Deans.
“We’ve got to continue in the direction in which we’re heading,” he said.
“There’s been growth across the board. The set pieces have been good, the skill level has improved as well.
“The belief and confidence is coming, but we’re fully aware we have a lot of improvement in us.”
The Brumbies centre said the Wallabies had narrowed the gap between them and the All Blacks in 2008.
“(We had) two very, very narrow defeats to New Zealand, who are definitely No 1 in the world,” he said. “We are very close behind them in so far as competing in those two matches. We feel as though we’ve started something here, especially this year, the way we finished off the tour since the beginning and there’s a lot more growth in us.
“That’s the exciting part.”
Winger Lote Tuqiri, who gained valuable game time, described the spring tour as a success.
“It’s been great,” he said. “The camaraderie in the team is working for us and the team is gelling really well. We’re all singing from the same song sheet.”Tweet