David Pocock during a Wallabies training session in Perth. Picture: AAP Image/Richard Wainwright
David Pocock during a Wallabies training session in Perth. Picture: AAP Image/Richard Wainwright

All Blacks expecting Pocock ambush

THE All Blacks are ramping up their preparations for Saturday's Bledisloe Cup Test after David Pocock's reappearance at Wallaby team training has left the New Zealanders convinced he's about to make a shock comeback.

Along with the expelled Israel Folau, Pocock is one of the few Wallabies who forces the All Blacks to think twice about their game plan so the sight of him at training has set off alarm bells.

The word from inside the Wallaby camp is that Pocock, who has been sidelined since March with a calf injury, isn't close to making his comeback yet and is just stepping up his contact work, but the All Blacks aren't buying that so are preparing for him to be selected.

Stream the 2019 Rugby Championship on KAYO SPORTS. Every match Live & Anytime in HD on your TV or favourite device. Get your 14-day free trial

"I expect to come back and be right in the thick of things," said New Zealand flanker Sam Cane, who has also returned from injury.

"Your match fitness is not quite where you want it to be but because you've been in those situations before you can normally just push on through.

"A guy like David Pocock, his best and worst game, there's not a big margin between them."

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is wary of the All Blacks, Picture: Will Russell/Getty Images
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is wary of the All Blacks, Picture: Will Russell/Getty Images

Named in an expanded squad then spotted training at the WACA with his headgear on, Pocock has given every impression he's chomping at the bit to resume playing, either off the bench or in the back row alongside Wallaby skipper Michael Hooper.

It could just be another smokescreen from Wallaby coach Michael Cheika, a master of pre-match mind games, but the New Zealanders aren't taking any chances.

"When you've got a dynamic duo like that it's almost impossible to keep them right out of the game," Cane said.

"It's just restricting their opportunity, you've got to be very accurate."

New Zealand's assistant coach Ian Foster also expects Pocock to be selected alongside Hooper.

"We've played against those two when they've played together a number of times and they're quality footballers so we're preparing for that," Foster said.

Michael Hooper (centre) forms a dynamic backrow duo with David Pocock. Picture: AAP Image/Richard Wainwright
Michael Hooper (centre) forms a dynamic backrow duo with David Pocock. Picture: AAP Image/Richard Wainwright

"Whatever happens on Saturday will happen but we're guessing that he will play."

One player who definitely won't be playing for the Wallabies is Folau, who was sacked after posting anti-guy comments on his Instagram page.

Folau scored eight tries in his 17 matches against the All Blacks so Foster is happy to see the back of him.

"They've been a team where the aerial part of their game has been pretty big when he's been there and it's probably been less big now that he's not," Foster said.

"When you lose players you find someone else and you may tweak the job description a little bit but generally the shape's pretty similar … so it'll be interesting if they still use the aerial game at times."