Skipper Pocock glad McMahon's on his side

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

In his first game as captain since 2012, there’s one man David Pocock says he doesn’t have to worry about being switched on.

His backrow teammate, ‘wrecking ball’ Sean McMahon has been itching to return to action after an ankle injury six weeks ago and the 22-year-old finally has the chance in Paris.

The backrower will be the only member of the starting department that didn’t play in last year’s Rugby World Cup final at Twickenham, with Scott Fardy at blindside and Pocock returning to his preferred No.7 spot.

“Sean is always excited,” Pocock said.

“He's a wrecking ball at training. And that translates into the game. He's not someone I'm worried about not performing, that's for sure.”

Pocock last led the Wallabies in the final Bledisloe Cup Test in 2012, a 27-19 loss for the Wallabies, with Will Genia, James Slipper, Rob Simmons, Nick Phipps Stephen Moore the only players running out on Saturday who were part of that match four years ago.

In the lead up to his return as skipper, Pocock said he had been working closely with the team’s playmakers, though it is unclear who exactly will start in the No.10 jersey on Saturday, with Quade Cooper under an injury cloud.

Cooper will have a fitness test on Saturday morning Paris time to determine whether he will play in the Test, potentially opening the door for Jono Lance to make his Test debut.

Pocock expressed his confidence in all of the inside backs to step up if required.

“Quade's got a lot of experience and has obviously played over here (France) a fair bit too,” he said.

“Willie Genia's the same. Kyle Godwin slots in at 12, he's shown a lot of promise. It's always exciting to see someone get their first opportunity. We'll be supporting him and we've got a lot of confidence in his ability to step up at this level."

The Wallabies have opted for a five-three split on the bench, bringing in hulking winger Taqele Naiyaravoro, with incumbent No.8 Lopeti Timani dropping out, a move coach Michael Cheika said was about balance.

“We've got a bit of versatility with the pack around scrummaging locks,” he said.

“Sometimes that makes some decisions for us, around how we go with the bench. but the conditions are looking good.

“We've also got a few newcomers out wide.

“It will be a big game to ask them all to play out 80 minutes. We'll just see how it pans out. We like going six-two a lot, to give us a bit more firepower in the engine room, but we thought this one had a better balance for this game.”