The All Blacks are expecting Wallabies flank David Pocock to return from a long-term injury in their Bledisloe Cup Test in Perth on Saturday.
Pocock has been out since March after injuring his hamstring during the early stages of the Brumbies’ Super Rugby campaign.
The 31-year-old started training with the Wallabies squad this week and could potentially make his first Test appearance since last year in a loose trio with captain Michael Hooper.
‘They’re quality footballers,’ All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster told the media in Perth. ‘We’re preparing for that but we also know if he doesn’t make it, there will be someone else there ready to do the job. We’re guessing that he will play.’
Sam Cane, who could oppose Pocock on Saturday, says he doesn’t expect his opposite number to struggle with readjusting to Test-match rugby.
‘When you’ve played that much Test-match footy and you’re used to playing [at] Super Rugby level consistently, I think it’s more a mental than physical thing,’ Cane said. ‘I’d expect him to come back and be right in the thick of things. Your match fitness is usually not quite where you want it to be, but because you’ve been in those situations before you can push on through.’
However, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Wallabies are not as convinced and feel that it is unlikely that Pocock will feature on Saturday.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said that Pocock would need to train for a full week to be considered for selection.
Australia currently sits in third place in the Rugby Championship. Should they beat the All Blacks and the Springboks lose without a bonus point in Argentina, the Wallabies could claim the trophy.
Photo: EPA/Franck Robichon