The Wallabies are banking on flanker David Pocock’s incredible recuperative qualities to help him overcome a calf complaint and tackle Scotland in Sunday’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final.
Pocock’s inclusion would be an enormous boost to Australia’s bid to reach the final four, given his exceptional form through the group stages at this World Cup, and his record in knockout games previously.
The former captain produced the game of his life in the quarter-final stages four years ago, inspiring the Wallabies to an 11-9 victory over South Africa as he made 26 tackles and forced a remarkable nine turnovers, while the Springboks dominated with 76 per cent possession.
Despite being sidelined for two seasons with knee injuries in the period since, Pocock’s value as the Wallabies’ most crucial cog remains.
As such, they will take the same measured approach as they did last week with star fullback Israel Folau, who was given until the naming of the team to prove his fitness, despite failing to train after rolling his ankle in the preceding victory over England.
Coach Michael Cheika will name his match-day 23 for the Scotland fixture on Friday, and assistant coach Stephen Larkham is optimistic Pocock, who again sat out Tuesday’s training session, will be able to rejoin the squad before then.
Pocock left the pitch with 20 minutes left to play in last weekend’s courageous win over Wales after copping a knock to his calf, but scans on Monday revealed no tear, leaving the Wallabies buoyant over his possible availability.
“He didn’t train today but we’re hopeful he’ll be right to train (on Wednesday), and the way we have been selecting the team is if he is fit to play on game day, he is available to be selected,” Larkham said on Tuesday.
“At this stage is he on track to be right to play.”
Larkham, who coaches Pocock at the Brumbies, is well aware of his work ethic and dedication to overcome injuries – having seen it in the past as he fought back from consecutive ACL injuries.
“There is a pretty good team here working non-stop to make sure he is right,” Larkham said.
“He is a pretty quick healer and and I expect him to start training by the end of the week.”