Wed, May 29, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Pocock clings to Cup dream after Super Rugby retirement

AFP, CANBERRA

Australia’s David Pocock, bottom, reaches for a loose ball in their rugby union Test against Wales in Brisbane on June 9, 2012.

Photo: AP

Injury-plagued Australian great David Pocock yesterday said that he was racing to be fit for the World Cup as he announced his retirement from Super Rugby, three games before the end of the season.

The 31-year-old flanker has failed to shake off the calf injury that has dogged his season with the ACT Brumbies, for whom he has played only 138 minutes.

The former Australia captain, who took a sabbatical in 2017 in a bid to extend his career, has suffered neck and concussion problems since returning to rugby last year.

Pocock, considered a master of the breakdown and vital to Australia’s World Cup hopes, is also known as an outspoken advocate in areas such as gay rights, conservation and global warming.

“I wasn’t expecting it. It’s just one of those things that you’ve got to deal with,” Pocock told reporters in Canberra of the abrupt end to his 13 years of professional rugby in Australia.

“I think the best thing now is to take the pressure off to get it [the recovery process] right,” he added. “To pull on the Wallabies jersey again is obviously my goal. It’s a huge honor and something that I love doing. I’ll be doing everything that I can to get myself right and get into the best shape I can.”

Pocock, who has twice won Australia’s top rugby award, the John Eales Medal, is to play for Japan’s Panasonic Wild Knights after the World Cup.

The 77-Test veteran would not seek a new contract with Australian Rugby after it runs out this year, but would remain eligible to play for the Wallabies.

Born in Zimbabwe, Pocock started playing rugby as an eight-year-old before his family fled the African nation and moved to Brisbane when then-Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe’s government enforced radical land seizures.

He made his debut for the Western Force in 2006, just weeks after turning 18, and went on to collect 69 caps with the Force over seven years before moving to the Brumbies in 2013.

His early years with the Brumbies were derailed by injuries, but in 2015, he collected a swathe of awards after a strong season. He finishes his Super Rugby career with 112 appearances and 19 tries.

Pocock, a formidable ball-poacher and turnover specialist, was one of the Australia stars at the 2011 World Cup and again in 2015, when they unexpectedly reached the final.

In 2012, he became the 79th Wallabies captain at the age of 23.

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