Power of Bledisloe wins not lost on Pocock

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

David Pocock is one of the few Wallabies that doesn’t have Australia’s 2017 Dunedin heartbreak seared into his memory banks.

Pocock’s 2017 sabbatical had him in Japan at the time of last year’s Rugby Championship and though he watched the series, it was as somewhat of an outsider.

That series was the first time he’d watched the Wallabies in his time away - the 30-year-old spent months of his year away on his family’s farm in Zimbabwe with little access to the other side of the world.

“I didn't see them in the June ones but I watched the Bledisloes,” he said.

“Dunedin's the one where they scored right at the end (wasn’t it)?

“(It was) hard watching - you really felt for the guys, they'd put everything in, just couldn't get the win.

“That's our challenge, you're playing against the best team in the world and you have to earn everything and fight for everything.”

Rugby has been put in perspective once again for Pocock in recent weeks as the rollercoaster of Zimbabwean elections unfolds.

His grandfather and owner of the family farm recently passed away, just a week out from the elections and the farm’s fate now rests on a debt relief plan yet to be approved by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Seeing that from afar has made Pocock all the more grateful to be living in Australia and playing rugby for a job, preparing for the biggest day at his office.

Though he was so far away last year, Pocock needed little reminder of how important a Bledisloe series win would be to the Australian public.

Pocock was a part of the 2016 campaign, that began with a disastrous 42-8 loss in Sydney but said a lot had changed since that night nearly two years ago.

The Wallabies squad that will run out this weekend looks far different to the one that featured that night - just 13 players from that group are in Michael Cheika's 28-man group for this Bledisloe.

"A lot has changed since 2016 - coaches and players. A bunch of faces so that always changes the feel of the group and how you approach things.

"A lot of the guys, apart from the 'Tahs together for about a month now, working hard and I think that warm up game was good, had a bit of a run.

"It's been good prep and it will will be a big week. Hopefully, people come out and we can get a big crowd."

Many of Pocock’s teammates struggle to remember where they were when the Wallabies last won the trophy - some were barely even starting school at the time.

The importance of a win to fans hasn’t faded, though, and Sunday’s Wallabies fan day was a timely showing of that, where players mingled with punters desperate to see Australia holding the cup.

“I mean it's huge and spending today out here with families and kids and seeing the boys and girls enjoying their rugby and seeing how excited people are, it reinforces how big the game is,” Pocock said.

The Wallabies host the All Blacks in the first Bledisoe on Saturday August 18, kicking off at 8:05pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO, with the Wallaroos taking on the Black Ferns from 5:15pm AEST as well. Buy tickets here.