SYDNEY (Reuters) – Loose forward David Pocock missed the first day of Australia’s training camp ahead of the Rugby Championship with the clock ticking on the flanker’s troubling calf injury ahead of this year’s Rugby World Cup.
Pocock has already been ruled out of the Wallabies’ Rugby Championship opener against South Africa in Johannesburg on July 20 and his fitness for the rest of the shortened southern hemisphere competition will be determined on a weekly basis.
The 31-year-old loose forward has not played since March 8 and shut down his Super Rugby season in late May to concentrate solely on being fit for the World Cup in Japan, which runs from Sept. 20-Nov. 2.
Local media reported on Monday that Pocock had played no part in training in Brisbane, where coach Michael Cheika is looking to narrow his squad for the Rugby Championship later this week.
Former ACT Brumbies scrumhalf Nic White could potentially make the Rugby Championship squad after he returned from a stint in Europe and was included in the camp, where he worked with former Wallabies captain George Gregan on Monday.
“It’s great to see Nic back,” said 1999 World Cup winner Gregan. “Obviously playing overseas in France and the UK was very good for him in terms of rounding off his entire rugby game.
“I did some work with him when he was starting at the Brumbies many years ago. He’s come back a really rounded player.”
Will Genia is the incumbent scrumhalf for Cheika, with Nick Phipps, Joe Powell and Jake Gordon all battling to make the squad as well.
Powell, however, was in Argentina with the ACT Brumbies, who were beaten in the Super Rugby semi-final by the Jaguares last Friday and none of the Canberra-based players are expected to be in Brisbane before the team heads to Johannesburg on Sunday.
“There’s been good examples of depth in a number of positions in this country,” Gregan said of the battle for the squad spots behind Genia. “I think number nine at the moment is definitely that case.”
(Writing by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)