The Rugby World Cup has been the ultimate motivator for David Pocock as long as he can remember and the flanker’s hunger for one more crack ultimately sealed his decision to take a sabbatical.
Pocock, speaking on episode one of ‘Open Side’, remembers watching the 1995 final as a child, and the feeling after he had played in one himself and come away as runner-up.
“For me, the World Cup is just etched in my brain as like the ultimate, which it is in our sport,” he said.
“From watching Francois Pienaar holding the trophy when I was, it was actually here (in Zimbabwe), we were on the farm here and watching at my grandfather's house, watching the final.
“I was so pumped, I remember at half-time running out to the verandah and skateboarding up and down and then going back inside and watching the second half.”
“Being part of that group (2015 World Cup finalists) and coming close but ultimately coming away with pretty empty-handed, certainly want to be part of a team that can earn the right to do well on that stage again.”
Had the Wallabies won that night, Pocock and partner, Emma, may well have gone down another path.
“We really weren't sure before the World Cup what we were going to do after that,” Emma said.
“I think had they won, we might've made very different decisions, but because they didn't and because that was such an incredible experience for that group of guys Dave had a real sense of wanting to have one more crack.
“We were talking about ways to make it possible for him to get to 2019.”A year’s sabbatical, a decision Pocock settled on after speaking to players like the late Dan Vickerman and Clyde Rathbone who both had similar breaks, was a way to keep him in the 2019 mix.
Pocock’s mother, Jane, thought the workhorse flanker may have opted to step away altogether from the game, even after the result.
“He started when he was 17 and he's just turned 29, that’s a long time to have your life so incredibly scheduled and working within a program and we thought it was great (for him to take a sabbatical),” she said.
“To be honest, as a mum, I thought he might've been ready to hang up his boots and say, 'I'm done'.
“Post-professional rugby is such a difficult time for the guys and we thought this would be possibly a way Dave could start working on something that he can look towards when he's finished rugby and just refresh him away from all the pressures.”
The first episode of ‘Open Side’ is available on RUGBY.com.au now, with episode two airing on Sunday February 18.