Pocock concerned about long-term impact of neck rolls

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

Wallabies flanker David Pocock admits he has concerns for his long-term health after another night of being heavily targeted in Auckland.

Pocock's teammates may have struggled to make a dent in the impenetrable All Blacks machine but he was immense in the 40-12 loss at Eden Park.

He led all Wallabies in the tackle count with 18 and was his typical immovable self at the breakdown.

New Zealand had clearly set their sights on the star flanker and went to extreme lengths in an effort to curb his impact.

Owen Franks was penalised for a neck roll in the first half and there were several other breakdowns which, if scrutinised, would have justified a penalty as well.

Pocock was so stiff post match that he had to turn his entire body to speak to reporters huddled around him and still had limited movement almost a day after the match. 

"As a player, you feel that after games and it’s not something you want to think too much about," Pocock said when asked about the impact neck rolls would have on his future.

"It’s pretty sore.

Pocock was immense for the Wallabies. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"I copped a knock and then a bit of a neck roll.

"It’ll be sore but hopefully it’s nothing serious."

Unfortunately, it's not the first time he has been targeted in such dangerous fashion.

"There were a few during Super," Pocock said.

"It’s something the refs said they were going to really look at.

"There’s been some penalties but I haven’t watched tonight’s game.

"The Brumbies put in a few citing… where you try to get someone cited… and none were accepted as meeting the threshold."

The Wallabies put the issue in front of the citing commissioners in June but opted against doing the same last weekend.

Coach Michael Cheika said there was an onus on his team to try and give Pocock some back-up in that space.

"We have in previous games, in the Irish series definitely," he aid.

"He's there nearly all the time, so he becomes a target and they do whatever they can to get rid of him.

"I think today's probably not the day to start going out for that type of stuff but for his own - he could hardly move his neck today.

"We need to also go there and give him a bit of support as well when that happens to him, we've got to show we're right behind him."

Pocock could be heard complaining about the roughhouse treatment through the referee's microphone throughout the match but post-game he said he had nothing but respect for referee Wayne Barnes.

"The refs are doing their best," he said.

"I thought Wayne was good tonight.

"He’s a really good communicator, lets both teams know what he’s thinking and you’re able to chat to him.

"I’ve got a lot of respect for him.

"I guess it’s one of those things as a player, you get into those positions and you are a bit vulnerable."

Neck rolls aside, Pocock cut a deflated figure in Auckland, with the flanker unable to pinpoint one reason for the Wallabies' second big defeat to the All Blacks in as many weeks.

"There’s zero excuses this week in terms of prep," he said.

"We’ve had a really solid week of preparation over on Waiheke, no distractions.

"We really put in this week.

"We saw some good stuff in the game but not enough and not enough attention to detail at crucial times.

"You certainly feel the disappointment but you’ve got to get on with it."

The Wallabies flew back to Australia on Sunday and will have time back in their home states before reconvening next weekend ahead of a September 8 Test against South Africa in Brisbane.