Wallabies set to lose David Pocock in 2017 as Liam Gill joins Toulon
February 9, 2016
© David Rogers/Getty Images

Australia's back-row stocks have never been more plentiful than they were in 2015 but that embarrassment of riches is about change with David Pocock and Liam Gill set for career moves.

Wallabies back-rower Pocock is reportedly considering taking a sabbatical from the game to study while Gill will join the ever-expanding list of Australians at French giants, Toulon.

Pocock is locked in an Australian Rugby Union (ARU) contract until the end of 2016, but the 27-year-old is weighing up a move in England in 2017 to pursue post-football endeavours.

Australia's best player at Rugby World Cup 2015, Pocock is currently in discussions with Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham and chief executive Michael Jones, while Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has also been in Canberra to discuss the star player's future.

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While it is understood the Australian Rugby Union would reluctantly allow Pocock to travel overseas and attend Oxford or Cambridge University for a year, the Brumbies are not as welcoming to the idea.

"It creates all sorts of problems if Poey takes a break," Jones told News Corp Australia.

"My preferred solution, and our offer to him, doesn't allow a break."

Such an offer from the ARU however would still give him two full Super Rugby seasons to prepare for the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

Pocock has also been pursued by cashed-up Japanese and French clubs, while he is also being touted as a possible replacement for Gill at Queensland Reds with the flanker set to join Toulon at the end of the year.

Gill will depart the Reds after his sixth season with the Super Rugby franchise to take up a contract with Toulon, currently home to Quade Cooper, Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell and James O'Connor.

Gill's modest wages are not being topped up by the ARU, with the 23-year-old finding himself frozen out of the Wallabies selection frame despite a career-best 2015 campaign with the Reds, winning the Stan Pilecki medal.

That has left Queensland vulnerable to a raid on Gill by Toulon and their colourful billionaire owner, French comic book tycoon Mourad Boudjellal.

"It's disappointing to be losing Liam to an overseas club, but we understand he has weighed up his options and decided this was too good an opportunity to refuse," the Reds' executive general manager Daniel Herbert said.

"He has international aspirations but plays in a position in which Australia have significant depth and he felt he would have limited Wallaby opportunities.

The Reds' Liam Gill is consoled by team-mates, Rebels v Reds, Melbourne, April 3, 2015
Liam Gill has been stuck behind Pocock and Michael Hooper at Test level © Getty Images

"Whilst we are disappointed to see him go there are limitations to what we are currently able to do if players garner overseas interest and aren't in the top band of Wallabies.

"We hoped a flexible contract would encourage Liam to stay in Queensland and Australia but in the end he felt this was his best option all things considered.

"We know his focus will remain on the Reds while he is still at Ballymore and hope his final year with us is a successful one."

Gill said it was a "very difficult decision" to reach.

"I felt the time was right to challenge myself and play rugby in a different environment," he said.

"I feel I have done as much as I can in Australian Rugby and now look to enjoy a new opportunity.

"It's really difficult to leave the Reds, but I'm excited by the opportunity this current group has for the season.

"This news just gives me even more drive to repay the faith of the QRU and the support of our fans."


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