MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A warrant was issued for the arrest of Australia rugby winger Digby Ioane on Monday after his failure to appear in a Melbourne court on an assault charge.
He was then ruled out of the rest of the British and Irish Lions series hours later with an injury, along with center Pat McCabe. A third backline player, fullback Berrick Barnes, will miss the second test in a triple blow to Australia's chances of leveling the three-test series.
Ioane, who played for the Wallabies in their 23-21 loss to the Lions in the first test at Brisbane on Saturday, was scheduled to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday but did not answer his call. A magistrate immediately issued a warrant for the arrest of the 27-year-old Ioane, who has played 35 tests for Australia.
The legal crisis now facing Ioane adds to the turmoil around the injury-plagued Wallabies team, which must win at Melbourne on Saturday to have a chance of taking the series.
Australia is beset by injuries after the loss at Brisbane. Ioane has a right shoulder injury that may need surgery, the Australian Rugby Union said later Monday, ruling him out, while McCabe sustained a repeat of a neck injury in that first test having already come on as an injury replacement for fellow midfielder Christian Lealiifano. Barnes was sidelined for the second test because of a concussion.
Lealiifano and another injured player, center Adam Ashley-Cooper, were expected to recover, however, and be available for selection for the second test, the ARU said. The combined British and Irish Lions team will win its first series since 1997 if it beats the Wallabies this weekend.
The incident over which Ioane was charged and ordered to appear in court occurred on March 9, the day after the Queensland Reds played the Melbourne Rebels in a Super Rugby match in Melbourne. Ioane and his older brother reportedly were involved in a scuffle over a phone outside a Melbourne hotel.
Ioane wasn't charged at the time by Melbourne police but was stood down for a week by the Reds when details of the incident emerged. He was charged on summons on March 17, when he was in South Africa with the Reds team.
Ioane was reportedly training in Melbourne with his Wallaby teammates on Monday when the case was called.
In a statement, the ARU said it had "worked expeditiously" with Ioane and Victorian state police to resolve the matter.
"Digby will report to the Victorian Police and will be issued with a revised court date," the rugby union said.
Australia will name its team for the crucial second test on Thursday.