Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says champion flanker David Pocock is 100 per cent fit, but unlikely to play the full match when he captains Australia in their Rugby World Cup warm-up Test against Samoa.
Pocock hasn’t played since March due to a calf injury, while backs Jordan Petaia and Tevita Kuridrani were not considered for Saturday’s match at Sydney’s Bankwest Stadium because of hamstring issues.
‘He (Pocock) has got through everything in the camp, he hasn’t had to be managed at all, so he’s ready to go definitely,” Cheika said .
‘He’s been in every situation going for the ball, getting smashed, tackle, ball carry, chasing guys 80 metres to try and save a try so he’s done everything.”
Asked about Pocock captaining the team instead of regular skipper and fellow openside flanker Michael Hooper, who isn’t playing on Saturday, Cheika said they are sort of straight swaps, arent they?
“They’ve got great experience, one can take the other’s lace and immediately flip into a captaincy role because they’ve both done it before.
‘Poey is a leader by nature in his actions and he’ll definitely take the team with him on Saturday.”
Cheika was coy about whether he would use both Pocock and Hooper simultaneously at the World Cup, a talking point that goes back to even before the last tournament four years ago.
‘I may, I may not, I don’t know, we’ll take a look at it when the time comes depending on the game and see if we want the two lads together, or if we want to play a more traditional back row,” Cheika said.
— Alex McLeod (@alexmcleod891) September 4, 2019
He said Kuridrani should be fine by next week and Petaia would be ready to debut in either the Wallabies first or second World Cup match in Japan later this month.
Asked about the inclusion of Saturday’s 23 of six players not selected for the World Cup, Cheika said he chose a couple on the bench to cover Pocock and Jack Dempsey, both of who are returning from long term injuries .
Other players were being rested after having a tough physical preparation in the camp in Noumea,
“One of the reasons we want there was to have a distractions-free environment, just concentrate on training hard and we certainly got that,” Cheika said.
“We pushed the boundaries in a lot of areas and I was really pleased both on and off the field.
“A lot of the team building that we wanted to do over there and building that spirit inside of the team was really good.”
‘It’s going to be physical and fast and it’s going to be exactly what we need before we go to the World Cup,” Cheika said.
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.