David Pocock receives ACL confirmation
March 10, 2013
David Pocock played only 12 minutes before he was replaced by George Smith © Getty Images
David Pocock will miss the Wallabies' three-Test series against the British & Irish Lions in June and July after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the Brumbies' Super Rugby clash against the Waratahs on Saturday.
Rated the premier openside flanker in the world by his Brumbies replacement, George Smith, Pocock was hurt when falling awkwardly in a tackle by Wallabies team-mate Adam Ashley-Cooper.
He faces a knee reconstruction and is set to miss the three-Test Lions series and the Rugby Championship campaign as well as the rest of the Super Rugby season.
"To hurt my knee so early in the season is obviously disappointing, particularly considering how well the team has been playing," Pocock said. "When I got here last year I got a good feel for the club's rehab programs and structures, so I know what I'm in for as far as getting my knee back to full strength. The medical staff have given me plenty of time to make a full recovery, so my focus has to turn to making that a reality."
Pocock was contending to be coach Robbie Deans' choice to skipper the Wallabies this year. Injuries last year forced Deans to switch the captaincy from James Horwill to Pocock, then Will Genia and the now-retired Nathan Sharpe, and the coach had acknowledged the choice this year was between Pocock and Horwill.
Replacing Pocock at openside flanker will also be a big task, but the Wallabies have impressive contenders, notably the Waratahs' Michael Hooper and Queensland Reds' Liam Gill. And Wallabies great Smith, a veteran of 110 Tests, could emerge as a contender after replacing Pocock in his comeback to Super Rugby on Saturday. Smith's experience would be invaluable in the pressure cooker atmosphere of a Lions series. Smith's Test availability is not clear, however, as he is still contracted to Suntory Sungoliath and he is playing for the Brumbies only on a short-term deal in the Japanese club's off-season.
Hooper made a big impression when playing most of the 2012 Tests for the Wallabies after Pocock suffered a cartilage injury to his other - right - knee, ruling him out till late in the end of season tour to Europe.
Brumbies captain Ben Mowen said the loss of Pocock was extremely disappointing, but more so from a personal point of view.
"You invest a lot in your playing group and the friendships that you build, and you really do ride the highs and lows with each other," Mowen said. "But in saying that he's an absolute quality guy and if anyone's going to do the recovery right ... he's going to be the guy who's going to do it."
Brumbies coach Jake White was not denying the Brumbies were fortunate to have signed Smith recently to play most of the Super Rugby tournament.
"It shows you how fate plays out ... it's just fantastic how things have worked out now that George has arrived," White said. "It's not nice on Poey, but at the same time it just shows how important depth is in this competition and when you have depth like George it's even better."
The Brumbies recovered from the loss of David Pocock to smash New South Wales