Pocock out of Twickenham Test, Samu to start

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies superstar David Pocock will miss this weekend's Test against England, replaced by Pete Samu.

It's a calls coach Michael Cheika admitted he was relieved by when it came to concern for Pocock's health, though the backrower's absence will be a major blow for the team.

Pocock was named in the Wallabies team on Thursday local time but coach Michael Cheika admitted he was not yet fully fit, happy to give him as much time as required before making a final call.

The no. 8 had a last-minute run on Friday morning in London but failed that test and ultimately Australia opted to rule him out.

Pocock has had neck issues all season and it was a similar injury that forced him out of the Wallabies clash with South Africa in Brisbane in September.

This latest aggravation came from a hit in the Wallabies' 26-7 win over Italy last weekend in Padova.

When asked about Pocock's status at Thursday's team announcement, Cheika admitted his star back rower was not in the best shape.

"He just couldn’t get over it," Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said.

"He trained a bit yesterday and his neck was really quite sore.

"He wanted another day, which obviously you’ll afford to a guy like him because he knows his body better than anyone and had prepared better than anyone but he couldn’t overcome it.

"And there’s a bit of me that…is relieved that he came to that conclusion, I’ll be honest, because he’d been copping it.

"He’s been getting smashed in there and no doubt they’ll be coming at him again tomorrow.

He knows it’s the right call no matter how much he wanted to play – it was a really important game for him, to play in the indigenous jersey and also against England.

Captain Michael Hooper backed Samu to get the job done in Pocock's absence.

"Dave pushed himself really hard to get in contention to go, as he always does," he said.

"He puts his body in such great condition. To not get there this time is disappointing for him and the team.

"I’ve got more than enough faith in Pete to come in. He’s been a real Mr Fix It in those roles and he’s come up with some really good plays." 

Speaking before news of Pocock's withdrawal was public, England scrum coach Neal Hatley said the Wallabies had threats over the ball even if Pocock was out.

"We know what a good player he is. I think he's got double the turnovers of any other stealer in tier one this year," he said.

"He's a hell of a good player and he becomes a big threat if he plays" he said.

"But in Michael Hooper, (they've got) other people, Polota-Nau if he comes on, they've got all people who jackal the ball. So, if he's playing, we're prepared for him to play."

Winger Marika Koroibete will come onto a 5-3 bench, with Kurtley Beale ineligible for selection after breaching team protocols.

The Wallabies take on England at Twickenham on Saturday November 24, kicking off at 3pm local, Sunday 2am AEDT, LIVE on beIN Sports and SBS.


IN: Tolu Latu, Jack Maddocks, Nick Phipps, Sefa Naivalu

OUT: Kurtley Beale, Taniela Tupou, Adam Ashley-Cooper

Wallabies to face England

1. Scott Sio (54 Tests)

2. Tolu Latu (11 Tests)

3. Sekope Kepu (102 Tests)

4. Izack Rodda (16 Tests)

5. Adam Coleman (30 Tests)

6. Jack Dempsey (9 Tests)

7. Michael Hooper (c) (90 Tests)

8. Pete Samu (8 Tests)

9. Will Genia (99 Tests)

10. Matt To’omua (41 Tests)

11. Jack Maddocks (6 Tests)

12. Bernard Foley (67 Tests)

13. Samu Kerevi (24 Tests)

14. Dane Haylett-Petty (30 Tests)

15. Israel Folau (72 Tests) 


16. Tatafu Polota-Nau (88 Tests)

17. Jermaine Ainsley (2 Tests)

18. Allan Alaalatoa (30 Tests)

19. Rob Simmons (93 Tests)

20. Ned Hanigan (19 Tests)

21. Nick Phipps (70 Tests)

22. Sefa Naivalu (9 Tests)

23. Marika Koroibete