David Pocock has been pinpointed as the man upon whose shoulders the Wallabies’ World Cup campaign rests, and the brilliant back-rower has given coaching staff a welcome update on his calf injury.
Pocock missed the thrilling 35-34 quarter-final victory over Scotland on Sunday with a calf injury sustained in Australia’s final Pool A fixture against Wales.
His input at the breakdown, where he has stamped himself as arguably the world’s best this tournament, was sorely missed in the Scotland clash – which threatened to be Australia’s final match of the World Cup, until a controversial 80th minute penalty goal to Bernard Foley saved their blushes.
Whether they will be able to overcome a vastly-improved Argentina in Sunday’s semi-final at Twickenham, let alone a final against either the defending champions New Zealand or a resurgent South Africa, could all come down to the strain Pocock is able to put on his damaged calf muscle.
However a relieved Michael Cheika has revealed the 27-year-old had a run on Sunday and came through unscathed, and the coach thinks it’s more likely than not that Pocock will line up against Los Pumas.
The same verdict was given to star fullback Israel Folau, who succumbed to an ankle injury and also missed the Scotland escape.
But news was less promising on starting prop Scott Sio, who had scans on his badly bruised right elbow on Monday.
“(Pocock) has run pain free which is always a good sign with that injury,” Cheika said on Monday.
“Often with that injury too it’s about the return to play and how you manage it, because if you don’t it will recur.
“We’ve been really conscious of that and making sure we don’t push too hard.
“We’re in the last 12 or 13 days now, we know we’ve got the groundwork done, so we don’t need to push anyone, we just need to make sure everyone’s right.
“We need to work hard still but make sure everyone’s right for the games.”
While Pocock’s work at the breakdown has arguably been the key factor behind Australia’s success at this World Cup, Sio’s outstanding scrummaging has also raised eyebrows.
Viewed as a weakness for so many years, the Wallabies turned their scrum into a weapon in the tough pool wins over England and Wales – and Sio’s role as the loosehead prop has been pivotal in that transformation.
The 24-year-old was seen with his arm in a sling at the team hotel on Monday and Cheika admitted they would struggle to assess the extent of the damage on his elbow – which was injured during a scrum collapse in the second half against Scotland – until the bruising subsides.
“He’s got no range at all,” Cheika said.
“The haematoma will go down and that will give him more range.
“It will all be about has there been damage done to his elbow, and will he be able to perform his job.”