SYDNEY (Reuters) – Wallabies flanker David Pocock has played his final Super Rugby match for the ACT Brumbies and will be focusing entirely on getting fit for the Rugby World Cup for the remainder of what looks like being his last season in Australian rugby.
The 31-year-old openside, who has been struggling with a calf injury and played only three matches for the Brumbies this season, has decided to concentrate solely on his bid to play in a third World Cup in Japan in September.
“It’s been frustrating … you’re putting pressure on yourself because you want to contribute … and I think now I need to take the pressure off and take time to get it right,” he told a news conference in Canberra on Tuesday.
“It’s just one of those things you’ve got to deal with … if I was realistically a chance to play for the Brumbies I’d be pushing for that.
“It’s every rugby player’s dream to take part in the World Cup and every rugby player’s dream to lift that trophy”
The Brumbies said in an earlier statement that Pocock would not be seeking another Rugby Australia contract for next year and the loose forward said he was not sure he would play out the third year of his contract with Japan’s Panasonic Wild Knights.
“To pull on the Wallabies jersey again is obviously my goal,” the veteran of 77 tests added.
“It’s a huge honour and something that I love doing. I’ll be doing everything I can to get myself right and get myself into the best shape I can.
“Certainly my focus is getting back for the Wallabies right now and the rest will take care of itself after that.”
One of the best openside flankers in the world, Zimbabwe-born Pocock has struggled with injuries throughout his six years in Canberra, missing most of the 2013 and 2014 seasons after back-to-back knee constructions.
Since he returned from a sabbatical designed to extend his career last year, he was also sidelined with a neck injury caused by opposing players twisting his head to try to nullify his effectiveness at the breakdown.
Pocock helped the Wallabies to the semi-finals of the 2011 World Cup — playing a decisive role in the quarter-final victory over South Africa — and also helped his adopted country to the final in England four years ago.
Even if he did decide to sign for a club outside Australia next year, Pocock would still be available for the Wallabies under the “Giteau Rule” because he has played more than 60 internationals.
Pocock, who runs his own charitable foundation in Zimbabwe and has taken part environmental protests in Australia, said it was far too early to discuss whether he would continue to play for the Wallabies beyond the end of the year.
“I’m honestly not sure, I haven’t thought beyond this,” he said.
“It’s something I’ll look at down the track. At this stage, the goal is getting back in that gold jersey and contribute leading up to the World Cup.”
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Toby Davis/Peter Rutherford)