Wallabies superstar David Pocock is expected to decide within the next 10 days whether to take a sabbatical from Australian rugby in 2017 to study, with Australian Rugby Union (ARU) boss Bill Pulver saying that option is in the mix.
The Brumbies’ back-rower is locked into an ARU contract until the end of this season, but is said to be weighing up a year-long move overseas to pursue post-football endeavours.
Asked if Pocock had expressed to him a desire to have a year off, Pulver said “that is in the mix, but I want to make sure I keep the negotiation process with David a private process.
“We’ll announce to the world what the outcome is when it’s done.
“David Pocock is one of the world’s best players, if not the world’s best player, so suffice to say, we’re very eager to keep him in Australian rugby.
“We believe he wants to stay in Australian rugby, so those discussions are ongoing.”
Pocock, Australia’s best player at the 2015 World Cup, is also in discussions with Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham and chief executive Michael Jones.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has also reportedly been in Canberra to discuss the 27-year-old’s future.
“We acknowledge he’s probably one of the best players in the world and we want him at the Brumbies,” Jones told ABC radio on Wednesday.
“The problem is, the demand and the interest in David has skyrocketed.
“We’ve sort of had the first offer to him and a counter-offer back … so I would say a week or 10 days and we should have it wrapped up, hopefully.”
While not ideal in the Brumbies’ minds, allowing Pocock to attend Oxford or Cambridge University for a year would still give him two full Super Rugby seasons to prepare for the 2019 World Cup.
As well as being pursued by cashed-up Japanese and French clubs, he is also being touted as a possible replacement for Liam Gill at the Queensland Reds after the flanker’s announcement of a new deal with Toulon from 2017.
Pocock is studying for a Bachelor of Ecological Agricultural Systems degree, however he has not confirmed whether he will continue in this direction next year.
Jones said Pocock had for some time indicated interests beyond rugby but his rise to prominence at last year’s World Cup re-energised him and excited him again about the game.
“So I think he’s got a bit of a conflict within himself about where he’s going and what he’s doing,” added Jones.
Pocock is set to play in Friday’s trial against the Reds at Ballymore, after being rested from last weekend’s trial loss to the NSW Waratahs in Wagga Wagga.