Qantas Wallabies backrower David Pocock will remain in Australian Rugby until at least the 2019 Rugby World Cup, after committing to the Aquis Brumbies and the ARU for the next three years.
The 27-year-old will be released from Australian Rugby duties in 2017 to further his studies and personal development, before returning to Australia ahead of the 2018 Super Rugby season.
Pocock will rejoin the Brumbies in 2018 to add to his now 91 Super Rugby caps, joining Qantas Wallabies prop Scott Sio in committing to the franchise in the long-term.
The Qantas Wallabies backrower said the structure of this deal would allow him to ultimately extend his Rugby career.
“I’m excited to commit to Australian Rugby until the end of 2019. I really appreciate the willingness the ARU and Brumbies have shown in allowing me to weigh up my desire to be available for selection leading into the next World Cup against my longevity in the game and pursuing interests outside the sport.
“I believe that after 11 seasons of professional rugby, having a year away from the sport will help increase my years in the game I love.
“It will also give me the opportunity to do a bit more study and pursue interests outside of Rugby.”
Wallabies Head Coach Michael Cheika said: “David’s long-term commitment speaks volumes about his character and the values he brings to the game.
“For him to commit to the end of 2019 shows he truly believes in the direction the Wallabies are heading in and how passionate he is about performing at his highest level for Australia.”
Australian Rugby Union CEO, Bill Pulver said: “Over the past 12 months David has proven he is among the top handful of players in the world and was arguably the player of the tournament at the Rugby World Cup.
“David has made it clear that he intends to remain in Australian Rugby long-term and has deep aspirations to achieve the ultimate success with the Qantas Wallabies in years to come.
“We also acknowledge that David is keen to build on his education and experiences outside of Rugby and he has our full support in his endeavors off the field. We wish him well for his short period out of the game.
“First and foremost we know how hungry David is for the challenges ahead including his current campaign with the Brumbies, three Tests at home against England, followed by The Rugby Championship and a Grand Slam Tour with the Qantas Wallabies.”
Pocock’s manager Brian Levine said David had a strong desire to stay in Australian Rugby and that was pivotal in the process, and represented the values of Pocock and the sport.
“We have been open and transparent with the Australian Rugby Union from day one, and our negotiations were conducted exceptionally well in an atmosphere of cordiality.
“Despite receiving higher financial offers from overseas clubs, David has always maintained his desire to continue playing his Rugby in Australia and has a strong belief in the direction and the identity of the Wallabies program under Michael (Cheika) and he wants to be a part of that success.”
Pocock, who was the standout Australian player in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, made his debut for the Wallabies in 2008, captaining the side in 2012.
The former Australian Schoolboys and U20s representative has earned 55 Test caps for the Wallabies and has been nominated for the World Rugby Player of the Year three times (2015, 2011, 2010), claiming the coveted John Eales Medal in 2010.
Pocock’s comeback 2015 season was arguably the best of his career - winning the Brumbies’ Player of the Year award, earning his 50th Test cap and playing a pivotal role under Cheika in the Wallabies’ first Rugby Championship title and Rugby World Cup campaign.
Born: Gweru, Zimbabwe
Super Rugby Debut: 2006 vs Sharks, Durban (Force)
Super Rugby Caps: 91 (69 Force, 22 Brumbies)
Wallabies Test Debut: 2008 vs New Zealand, Hong Kong
Wallabies Test Caps: 55