Pocock's Wallabies brimming with belief

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

Seven days is a long time in rugby.

Last Friday David Pocock was pulled from the Wallabies' captain's run due to a neck injury suffered against the All Blacks.

It was a cruel blow but even without their star flanker the Wallabies got the job done and snapped a four-game losing streak.

Fast forward one week and Pocock is back on deck, been given the No .7 jersey and the captain's armband following the withdrawal of Michael Hooper with a hamstring injury.

"A week is a long time in rugby," Pocock said at Friday's captain's run.

"It's one of those things. We talked about it this morning and put a new plan in place

"I don't think a huge amount changes as players.Hooper chats with former Wallaby Mat Rogers at Friday's captain's run. Photo: Getty Images"There are guys coming in and out all the time. You train for that and you are hoping it's ready."

Hooper's absence on Saturday will mark the first time he has missed a Test through injury since making his debut against Scotland in 2012.

He received treatment on the left hamstring which brought an end to his Super Rugby season during the win over the Springboks but when queried about it post match laughed off any suggestion of concern.

“I was just stretching it out,” Hooper said with a smile.

He also got through the entire week's training but pulled up sore on Thursday evening.

It's understood he will not be sent for scans as medical staff take every precaution with the Australian skipper but his absence does change the dynamic of the backrow.

"It's a slightly different role," Pocock said of his shift to openside.

"Pete Samu comes in at No. 8.

"He's a great player and we saw how much he stepped up last week. I'm excited to get out there with him and get that combination going."Pocock will start at openside against Argentina. Photo: Getty ImagesThe loss of a captain and No. 7 may not be ideal but Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has a fair replacement on hand in Pocock.

The dynamic flanker has won 24 of his 37 Tests wearing the no.7 jersey - at 64% - and Pocock has also won four of six Tests as captain.

He has not led the Wallabies out for 664 days, however.

While three late changes last week and Hooper's Friday withdrawal this week can't be ideal for a team's preparation it does force other players to step up.

Samu did exactly that last week and the depth being built may come in handy if injury strikes during next year's World Cup.

"It forces you to adapt," Pocock said.

"One of the things Cheik has done really well is bring in a whole bunch of new talent.

"If this had have happened before the last World Cup I think we would have been in some serious strife but as it is now there’s a bunch of guys who have been part of the group, know how we want to play and are able to slot in."

Building that depth has given Pocock plenty of confidence in his side.

He firmly believes they are ready to win back-to-back Tests for the first time since last year's Spring Tour.

"I’ve got a huge amount of belief in the team and what we’re trying to do," he said.

"We haven’t had the results that we’ve wanted this year but there’s been plenty of good work and improvement.

"The challenge for us is to really step up and take all that hard work off the field and actually put it into an 80-minute performance.

"Every game is big and playing for Australia you want to go out there and do everyone proud.

"Everyone supports Australian rugby and it's a reality in professional sport that you aren't going to win every game.

"What you do want to be doing is making people proud.

"When you do that you are going to win more than you lose."

The Wallabies face Argentina at Robina Stadium on Saturday, kicking off at 8pm AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Channel Ten and RUGBY.com.au radio.