David Pocock believes his chances of starting at No.8 during the Rugby World Cup will hinge on coach Michael Cheika’s assessment of the opposition for each match.
Wallabies fans fell in love with the concept of Pocock and fellow openside fetcher Michael Hooper starting in tandem when Cheika used Pocock at No.8 and they terrorised the All Blacks in Sydney last month.
It’s a combination that looks set to continue well beyond next month’s World Cup after 27-year-old Pocock on Friday announced a new one-year contract with the Australian Rugby Union and the Brumbies.
But Pocock felt Cheika was likely to adopt a horses for courses approach when it came to their starting combination at the World Cup.
In the return clash with the All Blacks at Eden Park, the coach preferred to start with the bigger Wycliff Palu at No.8 as he attempted – with limited success – to take sting out of the opposition forwards before introducing Pocock.
“I guess it depends who you’re playing against, what kind of style we’re looking to play,” Pocock said.
“I’ve certainly enjoyed playing alongside Hoops.
“I really rate him as a player and a bloke and we get on pretty well.
“Whilst it’s a bit different it’s a lot of fun. We’ve been working on combinations and possible scenarios, so we’ll see what the coaches reckon.”
Pocock’s new contract follows a superb comeback after he went over two and a half years without playing a Test in either 2012 or 2013, having suffered a season-ending knee injury in both campaigns.
Such was his resurgence that he finished second only to Israel Folau in Wallabies’ player voting for the John Eales Medal on Thursday night despite appearing in only half as many Tests.
Pocock admitted there had been times since he played at the last World Cup in 2011 when he wondered if his atrocious luck with injuries would preclude him from playing in the 2015 tournament.
“I think there’s always doubts, particularly after the second (knee injury),” Pocock said.
“I certainly had a week of thinking about that and wondering whether my body would hold up.
“But I guess you back yourself to get back to your best if your body allows it and I had some great support.”
He stressed the short length of his latest contract had nothing to do with any concerns over his physical condition.
“(It was) Nothing more than just being confident that I can 100 per cent commit to next year and then reassess after that,” Pocock said.
“I didn’t want to lock myself in to something that I wasn’t sure I could deliver on.”