David Pocock, speaking with referee Pascal Gauzere, looks like being put on ice. Picture: David Moir
David Pocock, speaking with referee Pascal Gauzere, looks like being put on ice. Picture: David Moir

Pocock to be put on ice until World Cup

THE Wallabies are seriously considering taking David Pocock to the World Cup without a game under his belt for six months.

Pocock's calf injury, which has kept him sidelined since March, is set to rule him out of the coming Bledisloe Cup series against the All Blacks.

With only the Test against Samoa to come after that on September 7 before the World Cup begins, the Wallabies hierarchy favours keeping Pocock on ice and unleashing him in their first pool match against Fiji on September 21 in Sapporo.

Pocock was named in the Wallabies' squad for the first Bledisloe Test in Perth next Saturday, but it is largely to continue his rehabilitation alongside team doctors.

The Daily Telegraph understands that if Pocock misses both the Perth and Auckland Tests, he will not be risked against Samoa and instead be picked on reputation for the World Cup.

Pocock, 31, is one of the few players in the game who commands instant Test selection after a lengthy lay-off, and has proven in the past that he can dominate international rivals immediately upon return from injury.

The flanker has not played a game of rugby since March 8, when the Brumbies lost to Melbourne, due to ongoing complications of a calf injury suffered during a Wallabies training camp in January.

Pocock has since announced his retirement from Super Rugby, and is expected to step away from Test football after the World Cup.

But the breakdown king remains one of Australia's key weapons for their Cup campaign and coach Michael Cheika will have no hesitation selecting Pocock in his 31-man squad.

Pocock is unrivalled as a pilferer of the ball. Picture: Getty Images
Pocock is unrivalled as a pilferer of the ball. Picture: Getty Images

Easing fears that Pocock's lengthy absence is crippling the Wallabies' back row has been the outstanding form of Australian captain Michael Hooper this year.

The openside has stepped up another level in 2019, and won an extraordinary sixth Matt Burke Medal this week as the Waratahs' best player in just his seventh season at the club.

Fox Sports Stats reveal Hooper made the most tackles in Super Rugby in 2019 with 223, 15 more than nearest rival Matt Todd from the Crusaders.

Michael Hooper has been in tremendous form. Picture: Getty Images
Michael Hooper has been in tremendous form. Picture: Getty Images

Hooper also leads the tackle count in The Rugby Championship after the first two rounds and is equal top with pilfers (two).

There is a growing theory that when Pocock is fit, he will be reinstated at No. 8 with Hooper keeping the openside flanker position, and new backrower Isi Naisarani shifted from the back of the scrum to blindside flanker.

The Wallabies' 36-man squad for the first Bledisloe includes Rookie back Jordan Petaia and veteran hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau.

Petaia is a strong chance of being named on the bench for his Test debut against the All Blacks, with selectors keen to see him in action before the World Cup.

NSW halfbacks Nick Phipps and Jake Gordon, as well as backrower Jack Dempsey and Melbourne back Jack Maddocks have missed the squad, indicating their World Cup chances are shrinking.