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'High alert' over Pocock

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All Black admits to being on 'high alert' over David Pocock

David Pocock’s presence in Australia’s squad for the Rugby Championship has got New Zealand on high alert, according to All Blacks forward Sam Cane.

Pocock missed last year’s tournament as he took a sabbatical from rugby but returned to international action in June against Ireland.

The 30-year-old was named in Michael Cheika’s trimmed squad for this weekend’s opener against the world champions, the Wallabies looking to claim back-to-back wins over their trans-Tasman rivals.

And the threat posed by Pocock is something New Zealand are wary of heading to ANZ Stadium on Saturday.

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“He’s always a big threat when he plays,” Cane told a media conference.

“The way he continually bounces back and plays at a high level is pretty outstanding. It just creates an awareness – we’re on more of a high alert than normal around the breakdown.

“In every Test match there’s always a big emphasis on the breakdown – whether it’s their ball or our ball, disrupting their ball or trying to get fast ball.

“It will be a focus again.”

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen continues to claim the Wallabies are favourites.

“They’ve improved from [last year] haven’t they and they’ve had a [warm-up] game. Every year we have a bit of a game for the guys that don’t make it through too far in the finals and I think that’s all the difference was.

“Once we got that sorted out it was a titanic struggle for the other two games. I think it’s going to be a great contest and two really good games.”

Australia’s 23-18 win in October was a rare success for the Wallabies, though, with New Zealand enjoying an impressive record against their trans-Tasman rivals.

The world champions have won 26 of their last 33 meetings but Hansen insists the rivalry between the two nations will not lose its intensity.

“It’s Australia v New Zealand, it doesn’t matter what sport you play, it’s a healthy rivalry between the two countries,” he said.

“We’ve done a lot of stuff together over the years, we’ve fought in wars alongside each other, we’ve looked after each other in many different ways.

“There’s a closeness there and whenever there’s a closeness it becomes semi-family-like and little brother always likes to beat big brother and big brother doesn’t like losing to little brother. That keeps the competition alive.

“Players, particularly, get to understand the history of it as well and they take pride in that.”

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All Black admits to being on 'high alert' over David Pocock