Serious concerns remain over the fitness of outstanding Wallabies flanker David Pocock, but Australia have abandoned any thoughts of resting players for Sunday’s World Cup quarter-final with Scotland.
Pocock was a no-show at the Wallabies’ recovery session in London on Sunday, instead staying at the team hotel with medical staff to continue work on his injured calf.
The 27-year-old has been in immense form at this World Cup, confirming his status as one of the world’s truly elite players while making a successful switch to No.8 and forming a dynamic back-row one-two punch with vice-captain Michael Hooper.
But he left Saturday’s courageous 15-6 win over Wales with 20 minutes remaining after copping a blow to his calf.
The Wallabies are confident it isn’t a tear, which would carry a recovery time of between two and four weeks even on the lowest grading of damage, potentially sidelining the influential Pocock for the remainder of the World Cup.
Israel Folau, meanwhile, went through recovery and seemed in good spirits, telling teammates he was in better shape than at the same point last week.
He rolled his ankle in the victory over England, and didn’t train for much of last week, before proving his fitness on Thursday.
The 26-year-old walked with a slight limp on Sunday, but with Australia enjoying an eight-day turnaround before next Sunday’s clash with Scotland, defence coach Nathan Grey was optimistic about the brilliant fullback’s chances.
“He pulled up better than last week,” Grey said.
“Getting that extra day going into the Sunday now is really important and that was a bonus of being able to win the top of the pool – that we got that extra day of recovery and we’re certainly going to use it.”
Veteran centre Matt Giteau also needed treatment after aggravating a rib injury on the weekend, but is considered a certain starter to face Scotland.
Hooper will return from a one-game suspension and slot straight back into his No.7 jersey, while Sean McMahon and Ben McCalman, who both impressed against Wales, will battle it out for the remaining back-row spot should Pocock be unavailable.
Kurtley Beale has starred off the bench and is the natural shadow player for Folau.
But Grey is insistent that Australia have no intentions of resting any players for the elimination fixture.
“We know the seriousness of this competition and we’ve showed that throughout,” Grey said.
“We want everyone who is available to play to get out on the field and deliver their best performance.
“When you put on that gold jersey it means a lot, and the expectation is you’ll be giving everything you can give.
“If those guys are in, that’s fantastic. If they’re out, then they’re out. We can’t control that.”