Wallabies coach Michael Cheika isn’t at all surprised David Pocock could be facing a world record-breaking English club contract offer.
But he is confident negotiations can ensure the superstar flanker will be part of the Wallabies’ next World Cup campaign and he’s also supportive of him taking a study sabbatical, if that’s what he chooses.
English club Wasps are reportedly prepared to give Pocock more than $2.8 million a season, which would make him the world’s highest-paid rugby player ahead of France-based former All Black Dan Carter.
They see him as an ideal replacement for Wallabies veteran George Smith, who is leaving them at the end of their season.
Off contract at the end of the Brumbies’ 2016 Super Rugby season, the free-thinking Pocock has been considering taking one year out of Australian rugby to study in the UK.
It’s understood he will make a call on his future in coming weeks.
Cheika considered it inevitable the 27-year-old, rated by many the most-influential player at last year’s Rugby World Cup, would face mega-offers from northern hemisphere clubs.
“He’s obviously going to get a massive offer because the clubs are loaded and he’s one of the best players in the world so put two and two together and you’ll get that result,” Cheika said.
He said Pocock and his management had been clear about his thoughts so the Australian Rugby Union could work with them to ensure he was back on deck with the Wallabies for the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
“We’re always going to be outgunned by the money over there (in Europe) and we know that so we have to present a combination of the finances as well as what’s it’s going to be like playing over here in Super Rugby and for Australia because you want to enjoy it and how you’re going to grow as a player and person,” said Cheika.
“If we present all those things correctly to him, or any player, then I believe they will stay.
“We’re talking really well around what it will take for him to be comfortable in Australia and be part of the next World Cup team.”
He was open to Pocock studying overseas for a year if that was his passion.
“I’m open to all the ideas … in a way there’s something about that resonates with our team,” Cheika said.
“You want to back the individual no matter what he does – if he commits to us as well – so if it happens, it happens.
“We should be encouraging all our players to round themselves as people,” he said.
“He wants to do something that’s going to further his education to go on and do the things he wants to do in his life as well as play rugby and I really believe in that whole rounded approach.
“Not everyone wants to take a year out to study but you have to respect what people have in their minds.
“He’s a smart guy – he will make the right choice.”