Rugby World Cup
All Blacks great lauds Pocock
ESPNscrum Staff
September 9, 2011
Australia flanker David Pocock poses for a portrait, Garden Court Hotel, August 8, 2011 South Africa
Pocock has received praise from the All Blacks legend Josh Kronfeld © Getty Images

Australia back-row David Pocock has welcomed being described as the world's premier openside surpassing the likes of Richie McCaw in the process.

Pocock received the praise from the unlikely source of All Black great Josh Kronfeld, who won 54 caps in the number seven jersey between 1995-2000. "Master" was the word used to describe Pocock and the 23-year-old breakdown specialist is delighted by the favourable comparison with the enduringly-brilliant McCaw.

"It's great coming from a guy like Josh Kronfeld," he said. "He was a legend. I remember watching him when I was at primary school, with his headgear.

"He was one of those loose forwards who always had it right because he'd follow the winger, Jonah Lomu or whoever it may have been. When they got tackled near the line they'd pop it up to him and he'd score the try. He was very good at doing that.

"So that's something coming from him, but I've just got to focus on my own game. Even Richie not at his best is pretty good. I reckon he'll put in a good performance this weekend and he leads the team well."

Pocock starts Sunday's Pool C opener against Italy after Australia coach Robbie Deans retained the XV that completed last month's Tri Nations-clinching 25-20 victory over New Zealand.

"Italy are definitely one of the teams that has improved the most over the last four years leading into this World Cup, so we're in for a good game," said Deans.

Italy have made two changes with hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini replaces Fabio Ongaro while Alessandro Zanni comes in for Paul Derbyshire at blindside flanker.

The team, which is led by Sergio Parisse, contains 13 of the 15 players who started Italy's 22-21 victory over France in this year's Six Nations.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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