SYDNEY (Reuters) – ACT Brumbies coach Dan McKellar says David Pocock’s workload will be carefully managed when he makes his return from injury with the Wallabies loose forward looking set to face the Lions in Super Rugby this weekend.
The 30-year-old flanker has not played since the loss to the Rebels on March 8 after suffering a calf injury and also missed his team’s second game after being concussed in the first six minutes of the opening match of the season.
“You have to manage him,” McKellar told reporters in Canberra on Thursday. “Calf injuries … they can be tricky and hang around a while so we have to manage his load well.
“He’s not going to play 80 minutes. That would be silly from our end. We’re just going to manage him wisely and make sure he can string some games together.”
McKellar added the conservative approach was necessary because the more Pocock played, the greater benefit to the Brumbies and the Wallabies heading into this year’s Rugby World Cup.
“It would be nice for him to get some consistency week in week out and build his performance,” the 42-year-old added.
“Even if you’re a world class player, if you’re in one week then out for a few more it’s hard to get momentum in your own individual performance.”
Pocock is considered crucial to Wallabies coach Michael Cheika’s plans for the global showpiece in Japan later this year but has been under something of an injury cloud over the last 12 months.
He missed two tests last year due to a neck injury and has suffered several concussions with both Brumbies and Wallabies management stating they were concerned opposition were targeting his head and neck to nullify his effect at the breakdown.
Pocock cancelled an annual holiday to Zimbabwe last December to try and sort out the lingering neck pain with an eye on the World Cup.
While Pocock was a boon to the team off the field with his leadership and experience, McKellar said he was “just keen to get back on the field”.
“It has been a frustrating couple of weeks,” said McKellar, who added his side would likely be at full strength on Saturday in Canberra.
“The guys who were rested last week (against the Canterbury Crusaders) will come back in.
“(Scott) Sio, (James) Slipper and Rory Arnold they’ve had their rostered week off so they’ll be back into it this week.”
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)