No backrow security blanket for Pocock

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies backrower David Pocock isn’t settling into any sense of security as he prepares for the opening Bledisloe Test.

There’ll be no Richie McCaw in the All Blacks line-up but the former New Zealand captain could be replaced by someone Pocock rates as the form player in the Super Rugby competition - Ardie Savea.

“He's had a standout Super Rugby tournament,” Pocock said.

“He’s been one of the better players of the whole tournament, pretty consistent, he was probably the same last year so he'll definitely be pushing for selection I imagine.”

Ardie Savea has a fan in David Pocock. Photo: Getty ImagesSavea and Sam Cane will play out an intense selection battle in the week leading into the Bledisloe Cup, with the openside jersey up for grabs.

Pocock has his own battles to worry about, though, with more new backrow faces in camp this time around, though it still seems that his combination with Michael Hooper is one that will stick.

With Pocock heading on a sabbatical in 2017, it will definitely be broken up next season and Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said that only emphasised the need to play with multiple backrow structures.

“It's really about being able to play with both I think, Being able to play with the two opensides in that format and also in a more traditional backrow,” he said.

“We haven't decided.

“There's no advantage to say we're going to go one way or the other and stick to that.

“I think we like the idea of having to play both ways, having both options.”

Lopeti Timani has impressed Michael Cheika. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyThe backrow is one area in which Australia seems to have an overflow of talent and Cheika has added another one to the squad, in Lopeti Timani.

Timani has played mainly second row for the Rebels this season but Cheika would likely use him on the flanks.

“He's a different profile than what we have perhaps in the backrow with our other players,” he said.

“He's really eager to learn, got an excellent work ethic and he's put a few shots on people at training.

“That never hurt anybody.”

“He gives us a different option of how we might want to play the game in the backrow (and) can double up in the second row if we need him to.”

David Pocock is back in Wallabies camp at full fitness. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyThe Rugby Championship will be Pocock’s final home series until 2018 and while he’s not preoccupied by the days ticking down, he said he would like to start his brief hiatus on a good note, after his June Test series was ended by a cheekbone fracture.

“I haven't given that much thought but yeah it will be (nice to finish on a high),” he said.

“You always want to play the absolute best rugby you can in the Wallabies jersey and I'll be the same over the next few months.”