After David Pocock’s late withdrawal from the Wallabies team to face the Boks, CRAIG LEWIS takes a closer look at the punishment he recently endured against the All Blacks.
Pocock’s failure to recover from a neck injury despite a two-week break since Australia’s last Test against New Zealand has again shone the spotlight on player safety at the breakdown.
At Australia’s captain’s run on Friday, Michael Hooper opened up on the subject: ‘It’s a significant injury and a significant issue. We sent in clips to World Rugby… they’ve said it doesn’t meet the red-card threshold.
‘I know, being in a similar position to David, you want to be protected and safe. It’s now cost us David having to sit out and be concerned about a pretty vital part of your body and as a fellow player, you’ve got to sympathise with that.’
With this in mind, SARugbymag.co.za reviewed the footage from the Test in Auckland on 25 August to highlight just what sort of punishment Pocock was exposed to.
What also stood out is just how omnipresent Pocock was at the contact points, while it’s abundantly apparent just how much his presence will be missed in Saturday’s clash against the Boks.
In the first slide below, Pocock latches onto Beauden Barrett as he attempts to steal the ball. Recognising the threat, big All Blacks centre Ngani Laumape charges in, making contact with the neck area of Pocock, who is prone over the ball. As play goes on, the Wallabies No 8 is very slow getting back to his feet as he recovers from the blow.
Not long after, Pocock is in the wars once more. This time he is laid out by Jordie Barrett off the ball. Again, the Australian loose forward takes some time to get back to his feet, while also receiving attention from some concerned teammates. The off-the-ball incident is also overlooked by the officials.
Just before half-time, the ever-present Pocock succeeds in winning a turnover at the breakdown. As he latches onto the ball, though, he is illegally wrapped around the neck and rolled to the ground by All Blacks prop Owen Franks. Not for the first time, Pocock is left prone on his back and receives attention from the Wallabies medics. No action from the officials is taken regarding the neck roll.
In the final image, and one that clearly irks Pocock, he can be heard shouting to referee Wayne Barnes ‘it’s f***ing dangerous’ as he is wrapped around the neck once again as he looks to compete at the breakdown. Pocock wins the penalty, but no further action is taken for the neck roll
Of course, Pocock regularly finds himself in precarious positions due to the nature of the job as a poacher, but it is also clear that the Wallabies have a point when suggesting that he was the victim of some illegal tactics that went unpunished.
At a time when World Rugby is moving to ensure the safety of players, it’s not something that should continue to go unaddressed.
Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images