Warrant issued for arrest of rugby star Ioane
JIM MORTON AND JOEL CRESSWELL
The Wallabies' horror second test build-up has sunk to new depths with a warrant issued for the arrest of star winger Digby Ioane.
Ioane is one of five backs in doubt for their biggest home match in 10 years but was training with his Australian teammates when he should have been at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday.
The 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 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 against the British and Irish Lions on Saturday night.
Nursing a 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 4pm (local time).
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 is two separate test series.
While Brumbies coach Jake White last week dismissed speculation that Smith would be fit to play the second test, the world-class No 7 insisted he was ready to go.
"There's no confusion about my fitness or my knee injury or what not because it's not existent any more," he said.
Centre Pat McCabe has been given next to no chance of recovering from a worrying neck problem but there's optimism that Christian Lealiifano (head knock), Adam Ashley-Cooper (shoulder) and Ioane can play.
Berrick Barnes is also in doubt due to a head knock, which has opened the door for two-try debutant Israel Folau to shift from the wing.
Beale or O'Connor, who struggled as the main playmaker in the first Test, could also be selected at No.15, with the other the likely five-eighth.
Which rugby player who's off overseas would you most like to see back playing in NZ?