David Pocock has reaffirmed himself as one of the Wallabies’ most crucial players at the World Cup with another powerful display in their opening win over Fiji.
Coming off a six-week stretch when they’ve played just one Test match – against the United States in Chicago – many Wallabies were shaking off the rust in Wednesday night’s 28-13 victory in Cardiff.
Pocock stood up in the most impressive way, earning man-of-the-match plaudits for his two-try effort.
“I thought Pocock was outstanding,” gushed Wallabies great Michael Lynagh.
“They’re not the biggest men in terms of their height, but Pocock is wonderful (and fellow flanker Michael) Hooper copped a lot.
“They’re always there on one side of the field. You can’t get away from them.
“They’re outstanding players.”
Despite being shuffled from openside flanker to No.8 in order to squeeze both himself and vice-captain Hooper into the same starting line-up, Pocock’s game was still world class.
Just two minutes into the game, the Brumbies star had already pinched possession in the ruck and he finished the half with a try double from powerful rolling mauls in the 27th and 31st minutes.
It continued a familiar sight from the Super Rugby season, where Pocock grabbed eight tries in almost identical fashion.
“I’ve had a few this year, someone has to be at the back to put it down,” he said.
“Those tries come from all the hard work up front so I can’t take that credit.
“We’ve seen a lot of teams using the maul as an attacking weapon in the 22 this year and I’m sure we’ll see a lot more of it in the coming games.
“It’s something we do well and we’ll use it when we think the time is right.”
The experiment of playing him alongside Hooper in the back-row must also be considered a success; in their two starts together, the Wallabies have two wins, including one against the All Blacks.
Between them, the pair made 38 tackles and forced three turnovers in the ruck against Fiji.
“We’ve been working pretty hard at training to try to get the combination working,” Pocock said.
“But I think Hoops and (No.6 Scott Fardy) got through a lot of work.
“It’s not just two (of us), Fardy is a pretty experienced campaigner now and has a few good goes over the ball.
“That’s what you want from the back row, to get through a lot of work and make impact at key moments.”