'Rebuilt' David Pocock advised to remodel game
March 8, 2014
David Pocock must remodel his game if he is to be a force again for the Brumbies and Wallabies, and to push for a place in Australia's squad for the 2015 Rugby Wold Cup, Eddie Jones believes.
Former Brumbies and Wallabies coach Jones has written in his weekly column for News Corp that Pocock is "a strong leader of good solid character, bright and brave like champion All Black Richie McCaw", characteristics the flanker will need as he recovers from his second knee reconstruction in 12 months because "he will have missed more than two years of rugby, including nearly 30 Tests" by the time he is ready to play again this time next year.
Jones wrote that Pocock should learn from George Smith in order to extend his career once he returned to the field, saying the Wallabies legend "tends to jackal ball with his body at a 45-degree angle to the clean-out crew while Pocock, backing his strength, tends to be front-on".
"One of the differences between the pair is that Pocock presents a bigger target to the opposition at the breakdown than Smith," Jones wrote for News Corp.
"It is something for Pocock to learn."
Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham said earlier this year that Pocock had already been working on aspects of his play, having redeveloped his body since joining the franchise from Western Force "strong in the wrong areas" and with a physique that was "a bit of a mess" for rugby purposes.
Larkham was referring to the Wallabies flanker's colossal upper-body strength that earned him the nickname "Bam Bam" among team-mates, and he said the Brumbies staff, "the physios here and the doctors have genuinely rebuilt him now, and everything's working a lot better than it was".
Jones cited Australia's great fast bowler Dennis Lillee as an example of a star who remodelled his game to become even better after a serious injury, noting he "returned after a serious back injury in the 1970s to be a master paceman on all types of pitches ... he still had the ability to bowl fast but if the track was flat he could bowl cutters or build subtle pressure to dislodge a batsman".
"Pocock has been a bit of a tearaway with not much subtlety," Jones wrote. "He may well study how George Smith tweaked his game as a flanker as he got older."
Jones suggested that Larkham could be another role model for Pocock, noting the great Wallabies fly-half "changed from a running No.10 to a more tactical No.10 who kicked a little more" as he handled multiple injuries through his career.
Tim Horan, meanwhile, drew on his own experience to suggest Pocock was a ''definite'' selection for the 2015 World Cup campaign in England.
Horan, who visited Pocock in hospital in Brisbane on Thursday, was told after a horrific knee injury in 1994 that he would never play elite rugby again, yet he represented the Wallabies at the 1995 Rugby World Cup and was part of the 1999 victory.
''The doctor walked in on my 24th birthday, on the 18th of May 1994 after an arthroscopy, and said, 'Tim, I don't think you'll play rugby again,'' Horan said, noting that his surgeon, Dr Peter Meyers, was the man who had operated on Pocock.
''He gave me the hard truth, but I look back at it and I played about 14 months later," Horan told Fairfax Media. ''I had a lot of issues, I virtually dislocated my femur. I had both cruciate and medial ligaments ruptured, my knee cap was sitting in behind my thigh and there was damage to my joint, both cartilages were gone.
''Dave's is isolated to the ACL [anterior cruciate ligament], which is great. It's repaired, it'll be stronger than ever. 'He'd be a chance to go on the end-of-season tour with the Wallabies subject to how the rehabilitation goes. He was very close to going last year, but opted out. It'll depend on how the rehabilitation goes, but he'll definitely be in the World Cup, there's no doubt.
"The World Cup's not until September 2015. Even if he starts with the Brumbies this time next year, he's got all the Super Rugby season as well as all the Test matches leading into the World Cup.
''It takes time mentally to get yourself back to where you want to be on the field, that's the mental experience you need. It'll knock his confidence around, that's understandable, you're not bulletproof. But he's got a very good support network. He knows what he has to do.''
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