There are no injury mind games being played over David Pocock’s fitness, says Pete Samu, the man who would be in line to replace the Wallabies no. 8.
England coach Eddie Jones said on Monday that the Pocock speculation was “like a merry-go-round” at the Easter Show, because of the number of times he had heard whispers the flanker would miss a game and then played.
The flanker broke his cheekbone against England in the first of their three-Test June Series in 2016, ruled out of the rest of the series a day later, and missed last year's England encounter on a year-long sabbatical.
Pocock sat out of training on Monday and was on light duties in Tuesday’s main session but Samu said there wasn’t any foxing going on, when Jones’s theory was put to him.
"Yeah well he probably thinks it's mind games from us, but if he's not right, he's not right," he said.
"He was out of training yesterday, so we'll give him every opportunity to be right this week, and go from there."
Samu would be the player most likely to step in at no. 8 if Pocock fails to overcome a neck “stinger” he suffered against Italy.
The Brumbies forward said he was prepared to step up if Pocock fell short, though he imagined the superstar would be given until the last second to prove himself.
“I'm ready for the challenge I feel if it comes to that,” he said.
“I think the coaches and staff will give Poey every opportunity to be right for the game so if it comes to that then I'll be good to go, ready to fill in that role.”
Samu has started in two of his six Test outings, coming in late for Pocock in Brisbane against South Africa and replacing captain Michael Hooper on the eve of the Wallabies’ Pumas Test on the Gold Coast.
Both Israel Folau and Bernard Foley returned to training on Tuesday after sitting out on Monday with illness.
England have their own injury concerns ahead of the Twickenham showdown with winger Chris Ashton ruled out of the game with a calf injury.
Ashton had recently returned to the England setup after four years in the Test wilderness.
England assistant Steve Borthwick confirmed Ashton’s injury on Tuesday local time.
"Chris was scanned yesterday and has been ruled out for a couple of weeks," he said.
"Chris is a fantastic player who knows his way to the try-line.
"He's been great around the squad the last few weeks.
“It's very disappointing but it gives an opportunity to another player. We have a lot of good wingers."
The Wallabies take on England on Saturday November 24 at Twickenham, kicking off at 3pm local, Sunday 2am AEDT, LIVE on beIN Sports and SBS.