David Pocock is working with a legendary Australian physio in Canberra in a bid to be right for the Rugby World Cup.
Pocock has missed most of the Super Rugby season with a calf injury, which has stubbornly refused to heal, and even after withdrawing from the Brumbies’ season to focus on the World Cup, there are question marks about when - or if - he’ll return.
The no.7 revealed last week he’s been working with Craig Purdam, who was chief physiotherapist for many decades at the AIS prior to becoming deputy director in 2017.
Purdam went to five Olympic Games with the Aussie team and his expertise assisted just about every Australian athlete of note for the previous 35 years, including a swag of Olympic medallists.
"It’s taking the first phases a little bit more conservatively,” Pocock said of his rehab plan.
"I have been working with Craig Purdam at the AIS, and there are few people in Australia who know more about calves and ankles than ‘Purds’. So his knowledge has been invaluable.
“It’s coming along slowly. I think we have a really good plan and I am sticking to that and progress and tick a few boxes that we need to tick.”
Purdam helped consult with AFL star Harley Bennell in 2016 when a calf injury ruled him out of the entire season, and has plagued his career since. Wallabies fans will hope Pocock doesn’t have the same sort of calf injury, which is understood to be a rare issue of muscle failing to knit fully.
Asked if he’d be back for the Rugby Championship, Pocock said: "I am not sure to be honest. I guess it is one of those things. Rather than a fixed date, we are going by stages and as soon as I complete one we go onto the next.
"I think that’s going to work allot better so making sure when I do get back to playing, whenever that is, I will be good to go.”
Snowy Mountains camp sets tone for Junior Wallabies' success
Five members of this year's Junior Wallabies team will return for next year's campaign and after this year's success, it would be no surprise if Jason Gilmore and his staff return to the Snowy Mountains for a staging camp.
Several members of the team have singled out the February camp as the moment the squad forged the bonds that would carry them to a successful Oceania campaign and world championship final.
"It's pretty funny, I sat here last year at those camps and you say, 'We want to win this thing' and you know all the other teams are saying exactly the same thing," captain Fraser McReight said.
"But this year was completely different. We knew we had 10 or 12 boys back from the previous year with experience at the junior World Cup and we knew we had double-digit boys in Super Rugby programs, with multiple Super Rugby caps.
"So we knew we had the team on paper that could hopefully win us the championship but it's the way the side connected and became really, really close like a family.
"And that really happened at the second camp we went to the Snowy Mountains and we all got together and had a day or two in the cold in tents, and all we did was sit around the camp fire, cook big steaks and just chatted and got to know each other.
"And that proved to be a vital part of our campaign and that's what got us all into believing that we could ultimately win."
Fellow Queenslander Harry Wilson said the Snowy Mountains camp was the first time the group felt really close.
"We stayed at the campsite overnight and it was freezing just out on Mt Kosciuszko and we just talked about mental toughness and what it means to be a man," Wilson said.
"After that night, we all stayed up around the fire, had streak and just yarned all night and I think that was one step of us becoming a really close group."
Rebels say goodbye to Ruru
The Rebels have used this week to confirm some player departures, and one in particular
Lock Sam Jeffries is heading to Japan while halfback Michael Ruru will be moving to France in 2020, potentially leaving the club without its top two halfbacks heading into next season.
Will Genia has been heavily linked to Japanese side Kintetsu, coached by former Reds mentor Nick Stiles, despite the Rebels being keen to keep the Test halfback.
Harrison Goddard is the next cab off the rank at the Rebels and though he is a promising talent, he is yet to have any serious Super Rugby time.
Returning nine Nic White is yet to link up with a Super Rugby club but he had been mooted to be heading to either Sydney or Canberra.
White is back in Australia with the English season over and will be eligible immediately for Test rugby but he still needs a Super Rugby club for 2020.
Castle confident in RugbyWA's future
Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle is confident rugby can turn around some worrying trends in WA after meeting with RgbyWA this week.
RugbyWA released its annual report a fortnight ago, detailing some financial problems including a $1.06 million government loan the organisation received prior to the Western Force's axing in 2017.
The government had agreed to put the loan on hold for two years back in 2017 but now they are requesting
Castle was in Perth on Friday meeting with RugbyWA and said Rugby Australia would help where it could.
“We did meet with the state government and have discussions in relation to an outstanding debt from Rugby WA, there are certainly some in-depth conversations going on around how RugbyWA can service that debt in a way that is practical for them and also for the government to make sure that’s achievable and gives them comfort that that’s achievable," she said.
“We were involved in those discussions and it was a good, positive meeting. We’re trying to find solutions that give both parties some certainty."
Castle said Rugby Australia would not be contributing financially to repay the debt.
“Not at all," she said.
RugbyWA's annual report showed senior participation rates had dropped 20 per cent while junior numbers had dropped eight per cent.
Castle said she was optimistic about the future of the code in WA despite those numbers.
“There’s certainly some challenges, the nature of the economy over here and the resources and environment they work in, and the nature of rugby being a sport that people who fly in, fly out play, they do tend to have quite lumpy participation," she said.
“But there’s also some really positive things happening around their junior participation and their engagement to rugby products, so WA is a really engaged participant.
“Yes, the numbers aren’t as consistent as we would like them to be but I met with all of the presidents of the clubs last night and gave them a really good briefing of what the alignments are between Rugby Australia and RugbyWA and the work we’re doing together to make sure they understand.
“There was still some disappointment that the Western Force isn’t in [Super] Rugby anymore but the overarching recognition is that Rugby Australia is doing all it can to support both Rugby WA at a participation level, and Global Rapid Rugby.
“And bringing the Bledisloe Cup here is not insignificant when we sold it out in six days, that creates a significant vibe around rugby in six weeks’ time."
Wood a machine on the field and at the dinner table
Junior Wallabies man-mountain Michael Wood has proved his ability on more than one front at the U20 world championships in Argentina.
The 192cm, 103kg second-rower has been a handful for opposing teams with his bullocking runs and strong tackling.
But Brothers clubmate Harry Wilson said Wood was best on ground in another area as well, eating amounts that even his teammates found staggering.
"We went out for dinner one night and Woody thought it'd be a good idea to get a pizza beforehand, so he had a pizza at 5pm and then dinner at 6pm," Wilson said.
Wood then polished off a massive serve of nachos before tackling a heaving 500g Argentinian steak with all the trimmings.
"And after that was still hungry and went and got some ice cream," Wilson said.
"I reckon he'd be the winner out of any eating competition there could possibly be out of us boys."
Imagine the grocery bills.
Junior Wallabies see bigger picture after final loss
The Junior Wallabies may have just missed becoming the first Australian team to win World Rugby's U20 championship after going down by a point to France this morning but the support for the team has not been lost on coach Jason Gilmore or his players.
With the devastating loss still a fresh, Gilmore and captain Fraser McReight made a point of relaying their thanks for the widespread support they had received from rugby fans.
The lads had a close-knit group of family and friends who had travelled to Argentina for the tournament but also won the hearts of a rugby public craving success on the world stage.
"On behalf of the group, a massive thanks for all the support that we've received from back home," Gilmore said.
"We've felt it over here and the boys have really appreciated it."
McReight said that support had helped ease the blow of the loss in the immediate aftermath of the game, with Gilmore pointing out how proud rugby supporters had been of their success.
"That's the main takeaway that Gilly said after fulltime, how much of an impact our making the final had had and it's a very positive thing for Australian rugby," McReight said.
"These have been the best blokes you could ever play for in a rugby team and there's a lot of special players in this team that will go on and play Super Rugby and play for the Wallabies.
"It's been an honour playing with them and being there as a leader."
Boyle steps up in State of Origin
Wallaroos lock Millie Boyle had a nice tune-up for the upcoming July Test series with a superb outing for NSW in the women's rugby league State of Origin.
Boyle made her State of Origin debut for the Blues at North Sydney Oval on Friday night in a 14-4 win over Queensland.
The second rower, who plays prop in the 13-player code, ran for 142 metres and proved a strong physical presence in the clash.
Boyle will join the national Wallaroos camp on July 6 when the group convenes to prepare for their July Test opener on July 13 in Newcastle.
Gold Blooded tour heads across the Bass
The #GoldBlooded tour is heading into its third week and the trip is going to Tasmania.
The Classic Wallabies and the touring team were in South Australia for much of this week, tackling the Adelaide Oval roof climb and visiting some of the Barossa's famous vineyards.
This weekend, the tour jumped on the Spirit of Tasmania, ticking off their fourth state or territory
For more info, head to wallabies.rugby and keep an eye on Wallabies socials.a