The Brumbies are confident superstar flanker David Pocock will be back for the Super Rugby quarter-finals, provided they qualify in Saturday’s last-round clash with the Western Force.
Pocock hasn’t played since fracturing his eye socket in the Wallabies’ opening Test loss to England on June 11.
He returned to light training this week wearing a special headgear to help protect his face, but is yet to be given the all-clear from the surgeon.
Coach Stephen Larkham said Pocock wanted to run out against the Force at GIO Stadium but he wanted to give him more time to heal.
“He needs another week of recovery,” Larkham said on Friday.
“He looked pretty confident and comfortable out there but we’re giving him every chance to be right.
“We’ve still got a few things to tick off with David Pocock and Jordan Smiler (knee), but if we get through then hopefully we’ve got those guys next week.”
The Australian conference leaders are on track to reach the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, but their task could be made harder by the NSW Waratahs if they had a good result over the Blues on Friday.
The Brumbies, though, want to ensure there is no repeat of last week’s “timid” performance against the Blues in Auckland.
They conceded five tries in the opening 20 minutes to lose 40-15 and a chance to wrap up the local conference.
Larkham partly blamed the 10 hours of travel the day before the game and a short week of preparataion for the lack of intensity in that game.
He is optimistic things will be different this week on the back of their first seven-day turnaround in over two months, and a return to a more simple game plan.
“We just want to be a little bit more on the front foot,” Larkham said.
“There’s been a real energy lift at training around the set piece stuff and this week is an opportunity for us to focus on doing things well rather than trying to do things differently.”
Queensland-bound co-captain Stephen Moore will this weekend break former Wallabies captain Nathan Sharpe’s record for most Super Rugby appearances by an Australian player.
He is currently equal with Sharpe on 162 career games and will move into third on the all-time list on Saturday.
“It’s nice to be able to be in that kind of company – he (Sharpe) was there when I played my first game in 2003 and he’s been a great help to me throughout my career,” Moore said.