Pocock returns to Auckland Bledisloe squad

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

David Pocock could be in line to make his return from injury in the final Bledisloe Test, named in a 31-man Wallabies squad for the Auckland trip.

Pocock and his immediate number eight replacement Sean McMahon (syndesmosis) have both been included in the squad for the October 22 Test at Eden Park, though are considered outside chances of playing.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said Pocock was a possibility of playing in Auckland, though McMahon would be less likely.

David Pocock could return for the October 22 Bledisloe. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley"They've been called into the squad for this game because there's a chance that Pocock could be available for this game," he said.

"McMahon probably a little less but we thought we'd bring him in and get an update on him as well."

Pocock broke his hand in the Wallabies' final home Test of the year, in Perth, on September 17, staying at home while the rest of the team travelled to Pretoria and London.

McMahon's injury came against South Africa the next week, with his early return paving the way for Leroy Houston to make his Wallabies debut at  Twickenham.

The squad's announcement also confirmed the departure of Will Genia to France, the last of the Europe-based Wallabies to return overseas.

Next week's final Bledisloe Test falls outside the international Test window, as it is not included in the Rugby Championship.

Will Genia deserves praise for his opening Bledisloe performance. Photo: Getty ImagesGenia had been with the squad since before the start of the Rugby Championship and will likely be available for three of the Spring Tour Tests, as prescribed by World Rugby's regulation nine.

Cheika said the Wallabies did ask his French club Stade Francais if Genia could remain for the final Test but understood their decision to call him back to the Top 14.

"The rules are the rules at the end of the day," he said.

"It's not an international window and they wanted a player to go back.

"We obviously asked to see if he could stay and they want the player to go back and that's a fair call on their behalf.

"Just as we're able to call them out on that rule [regulation], we had an agreement on how we'd operate in the interim and been respected. As much as I'd like to have him back and playing from my end, they're totally within their rights to ask for a player back."

Nick Phipps is confident in Australia's attack. Photo: Getty ImagesNick Phipps is Genia's obvious successor and Cheika said the final Bledisloe Test would be an opportunity for the backup to grasp, after losing his June Series starting spot to Genia.

"Genia’s been really good, been in some of the best form that he's had in the Australian jersey," he said.

"He’s been really instrumental for the team as a whole, one of the senior players we do have still in the team.

"It's a great opportunity for Nick Phipps to get back out there and stake a claim on the jersey."

Neither Genia nor Phipps featured in the starting team at Eden Park last year, with former Brumbies scrumhalf Nic White the number nine.

Mammoth second rower Will Skelton is the only other inclusion to the squad for the trip, after being left out of the two-week tour of Pretoria and London to play NRC.


David Pocock, Will Skelton


Will Genia

Wallabies Bledisloe Cup squad

Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Quade Cooper, Kane Douglas, Scott Fardy, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Nick Frisby, James Hanson, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Michael Hooper, Sekope Kepu, Samu Kerevi, Tevita Kuridrani, Tolu Latu*, Stephen Moore, Luke Morahan, Sean McMahon, Dean Mumm, Sefanaia Naivalu, Nick Phipps, David Pocock, Tom Robertson, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, Will Skelton, Henry Speight, James Slipper, Lopeti Timani, 

*denotes uncapped player