Pocock unfazed by position switch

International
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

David Pocock can’t remember ever playing blindside flanker but he’s confident another new-look backrow will work for the Wallabies on Saturday.

Pocock has been named at number six, alongside Michael Hooper and Lopeti Timani in the Wallabies back row.

It’s a combination that raises immediate worries about the lineout, with Dean Mumm suspended and Pocock his replacement, but the Brumbies flanker said they had confidence in their structure.

Lopeti Timani will start at number eight. Photo: Getty Images“We'll have to adapt,” he said.

“We've been practising our lineouts. All of us can jump. We've just got to back our drill there.”

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika admitted the reshuffle was a gamble in the lineout but it was one he was clearly willing to take.

“There's no doubt that David Pocock as a straight swap for him won't give him the same area of skills, but at the same time he's got other strengths, Pocock, that I'm sure we'll be able to use in the game.

“We'll just have to be very excellent in our skill delivery from the lineout.

“It's been an area we've improved on over the season and we'll have to be very good with what we do but we should be doing that anyway.

“I believe it's a selection that can work and I'm looking forward to seeing them play together.”

David Pocock isn't worried by another back row reshuffle. Photo: Getty ImagesPocock and Hooper will likely switch sides at scrum time during the game, something that the 28-year-old said would simply be decided on the run.

“I think we'll just see how it feels,” he said.

“I guess we can do that, neither of us is very tall so we'll see. I think we're both pretty equal on the scrum.

“We'll see how it feels and we'll be able to change that left and right side.”

The Wallabies backrow will face a stern challenge from Wales, though the Welsh have been hit hard by injury on that front, losing Sam Warburton and Taulupe Faletau, though Cheika said their opponents’ picks had little impact on Australia’s.

“We picked before we knew what they were selecting but I think the players they've got are pretty high quality,” he said

“[Justin] Tipuric, if Warburton's not there, Tipuric is in any other national team.

Rob Howley says the Pocock-Hooper combination will be a threat. Photo: Getty Images“He's a quality openside. [Ross] Moriarty is quite a dynamic player - he's a handful. And [Dan] Lydiate has form on the board as an established, strong defender.

“They're a very complementary backrow in themselves.

“That battle, between ours and theirs, they're very different setups and it will be a very interesting part of the game.”

Wales coach Rob Howley said cutting off the Pocock-Hooper combination at the breakdown was a key focus for his side heading into the game.

"With Pocock and Hooper, it shows the sort of landscape they want to play and it's up to us to make sure that they're not in control of that landscape and that's a challenge,” he said.

"The contact area is going to be hugely important and they've got two specialists and that's going to be a huge challenge.”

The Test between the Wallabies and Wales will be screened LIVE on BeIN Sports 3 (Foxtel channel 515) from 1.00am AEDT. Fans can also LIVE stream the match on Foxtel GO (for Foxtel subscribers).

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