Deans predicts Pocock to return at new peak

Brisbane Tens
by Sam Phillips

Robbie Deans has no doubt David Pocock will make an imposing return from a sabbatical, having watched him grow both on and off the field during his time at Panasonic.

Deans couldn't have spoken with more confidence about the star flanker, who finished a year sabbatical playing for the Wild Knights en route to a Top League title.

"I think you will be very excited with the way Pocock comes back," Deans said.

"I think he is going to be a key figure in Australian rugby over the next couple of years.

"You look at his career, he has played from a young age in a tough position so it would have been stimulating mentally, refreshed him physically and it's also an opportunity to grow as a bloke and as a player.

Deans is expecting big things upon Pocock's return. Photo: Getty Images"You're playing in a context where you can try things and I know as a leader, we have done a lot of work around leadership.

"He will make an impact, without a doubt."

Deans has given his side a licence to play with as much flair as they desire at the Brisbane Tens and that is a natural progression from the free flowing style of play they employ in Japan.

It's that willingness to throw the ball around that has also aided Pocock's growth as a link between forwards and Backs, according to the former Wallabies coach.

"Absolutely - he has grown," Deans said.

"That's the way we play - lots of touches - and we like to give blokes an opportunity to express themselves.Pocock will be out until at least March as he recovers from knee surgery. Photo: Getty Images"He has enjoyed that and he was great.

"He comes back a better player, he comes back refreshed and I think you will see a formidable Brumbies team, for a start."

Deans forecast a promising 2018 in Canberra with Pocock returning on a mission to excel in March and Christian Lealiifano steering the ship from flyhalf.

"With Christian returning the group is ready, they're hungry, new coach, David's coming back to make his sabbatical work," he said.

"You'll always get difference of opinion of what's best but the bloke that knows what's best is the individual, himself.

"He's not accustomed to failing, he will want to make it work and I have no doubt he will."

Deans has also had a long association with Reds coach Brad Thorn through his time at the Crusaders and backed him to lead the Reds from the cellar in 2018.

"Brad is a bloke who likes to win, he's a competitor," he said.

"So he will make a plan, he will commit and I would encourage that he does identify to commit with him.

"He likes to win, he will find ways to win and he will take people with him that want the same thing."

The Brisbane Tens kick off at Suncorp Stadium on Friday, February 9. Buy tickets here.