Australia v New Zealand, Tri-Nations, Sydney, September 11
Pocock has high praise for McCaw
September 8, 2010
Richie McCaw was in a relaxed mood at training in Sydney © Getty Images
The Tri-Nations and Bledisloe Cup might not be on the line but the battle for supremacy between two of the world's finest openside flankers will rage on when Australia host New Zealand in Sydney on Saturday night.
Richie McCaw's master-meets-apprentice-style rivalry with Wallabies No.7 David Pocock has become a fascinating subtext to Bledisloe meetings in recent times. The All Blacks skipper can point to his team's domination as a reflection of his ability but Pocock, who has age on his side, is increasingly mentioned in New Zealand circles as a danger man in the green and gold.
McCaw has his critics for his borderline illegal work at the breakdown, which slows down possession and hinders a ball-retention style of rugby, but Pocock has praised his opposite number for his approach.
''He's very smart and very good about the way he goes about his game, playing to the limits, which is what every No.7 should be doing," Pocock told the Sydney Morning Herald. ''He is smart and good at reading the play at the right time. The key is how he reads refs. A lot of people think he gets away with stuff, but it's the way he plays right to the edge. Good on him.''
McCaw admitted that Pocock's talent for pilfering the ball has warranted special attention from the All Blacks.
"At the breakdown he has a good idea of how to have an impact," McCaw said. "He's a strong character, has physical presence. The Tests we've played we've had to make sure we keep him under control."
McCaw, 29, is entering his twilight years as 22-year-old Pocock is maturing towards his peak so the crossover between what should become two memorable careers is likely to be relatively brief. Much of the focus may be on Quade Cooper as he faces the All Blacks for the first time before deciding his playing future but the most influential player at ANZ Stadium will more likely have No.7 on his back - whichever team wins.