Hooper urges rugby officials to revisit neck rolls after Pocock injury

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

Michael Hooper has called on SANZAAR to take neck rolls more seriously after David Pocock was ruled out of the Wallabies' clash with the Springboks at the 11th hour.

The All Blacks took a no holds barred approach to clearing Pocock from the breakdown in Auckland and the star flanker was in visible pain post match after being on the end of several neck rolls.

That pain has culminated in the 30-year-old being ruled out for Saturday's clash with the Springboks a fortnight on and Hooper was clearly disgruntled with the way the incidents were handled by the governing body.

"It's a significant injury and a significant issue," Hooper said.

"As a coaching group we sent into clips to (World Rugby and SANZAAR) and the coaches told me that it didn't meet the red card threshold.

"Neck injuries are a pretty big part of the game and being in a similar position to David I know that it's about player safety.Pocock was ruled out of the Test on Friday. Photo: Getty Images"It's now cost us David having to sit out and being concerned about a pretty vital part of your body.

"As a fellow player you have to sympathise with that."

The lack of action follows a similar trend to the way governing bodies have handled similar incidents regarding Pocock this season.

After the Auckland Test Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said the Australians had sent vision of Irish neck rolls to World Rugby in June and the Brumbies also sent tape of similar incidents Pocock to SANZAAR in the Super Rugby season.

"We have in previous games, in the Irish series definitely," Cheika said last month.

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

Hooper did not believe the All Blacks' attack on Pocock was particularly malicious but said the game must revisit the issue.

"I know that in parts of the game in the moment as a player on the other side you are not looking to intentionally inflict pain on someone or intentionally inflict a serious injury," he said.

"Sometimes these things do happen but how we avoid that is a conversation we need to have.Pocock was targeted in Auckland. Photo: Getty Images"It's very hard on the field and I understand that it happens very quickly.

"But how we get the right outcome for all of this stuff is how we need to look at it."

The lack of action is a remarkable step back from the 2015 and 2016 seasons, where players were suspended for several weeks due to similar incidents.

Pocock himself was suspended for two Super Rugby games in 2016 for a neck roll on Chiefs flanker Michael Leitch.

He later apologised for the incident in a blog post.

"It was not my intention to hurt Michael, but in these sorts of circumstances it is not intention that matters," Pocock wrote at the time.

"I am grateful that World Rugby and SANZAR are concerned about making the game safer for all of us."

Pocock also weighed in on the matter after the latest loss to New Zealand.

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

"As a player, you feel that after games and it’s not something you want to think too much about."

The Wallabies face the Springboks at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday, kicking off at 8pm AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Channel Ten and RUGBY.com.au radio.