Wallabies bonus as Pocock lines up pre-Cup return

Wallabies matchwinner David Pocock expects to play before the September kick-off to the Rugby World Cup in a major sign he is finally winning his drawnout battle against a tricky calf injury.

The 77-Test flanker will play no part in the Test against South Africa in Johannesburg early on Sunday morning (EST) yet his repair has been rated so important he is on tour anyway for further rehabilitation and physiotherapy.

Wallabies great John Eales missed the full Super 12 season and the seven-Test lead-up to the 1999 World Cup because of major shoulder surgery.


It didn't stop him lifting the Webb Ellis Cup skyward as a major contributor by tournament-end.

Equally, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika will give Pocock latitude beyond the regular player to prove his fitness so valued is his momentum-changing work as an openside flanker.

"There is an advantage having the same trainers and physios with a continuity of care," Pocock said of being a non-playing squad member in South Africa.

"It's been a frustrating year, definitely, but I see a huge opportunity to get back and contribute.

"There's definitely a light at the end of the tunnel, it's been there for a while, and hopefully it keeps getting bigger.

"I'm getting flogged in my off-feet conditioning and watching the guys back together working hard is so good to be around."

David Pocock could be targeting the pre-Cup warm-up against Samoa as his return to action.
David Pocock could be targeting the pre-Cup warm-up against Samoa as his return to action.

He is back running and the rolling and bending drills at training last week to simulate his ruck work were all aimed at pushing the fibres of his massive calf that bit more.

Cheika and Pocock keeps saying there's a plan for the flanker's return without ever detailing it but throwing him into a Bledisloe Cup comeback cauldron on August 10 or 17 makes little sense.

Pocock could actually be picked in the 31-man World Cup squad next month without playing since the last of his 138 minutes for the 2019 Brumbies in March.

He could be set for the World Cup tune-up match against Samoa in Parramatta on September 7 after the Cup squad is picked to get his game legs back for a bench role in the World Cup opener against Fiji in Sapporo on September 21.

Pocock was a key member of the 2015 World Cup squad which rode all the way to the final with great character in clutch situations, tight team bonds, standout performers and good planning.

"Everyone had totally bought in to what we were doing," Pocock said.

Liam Wright is in line for some time against the Springboks.
Liam Wright is in line for some time against the Springboks.

"You can't recreate something from four years ago, every year you've got to create your own team dynamics and make things happen which is what the guys have a real desire for now."

Pocock's absence against the Springboks means there will be more opportunities in the backrow, for starters and off the bench.

Uncapped openside Liam Wright and new 110kg No.8 Isi Naisarani are in the mix for chances as is Melbourne Rebel Luke Jones, a workhorse at blindside flanker in the Scott Fardy mould who returned from French rugby for just such an audition.

Test prop Taniela Tupou was unscathed but rattled by a robber snatching his mobile phone just 50m from the team's hotel in upmarket Sandton last Saturday night around 9.15pm.

"I'm ready to go, ready to train," Tupou said.

"It's crazy... I learnt a lesson. Lucky it was not my wallet."

Having first thought it was a teammate's prank, Tupou gave chase and suffered minor cuts when trying to grab the phone out of the robber's car before it drove off.