Former Wallabies captain David Pocock will rejoin the main ACT Brumbies training group on Monday for the first time since undergoing his second knee reconstruction as the first of several key players returning from injury.
Brumbies senior coach Stephen Larkham said the addition of teams from Japan and Argentina as part of the revamped Super Rugby in 2016 and beyond was making it a true southern hemisphere competition – although he questioned how long the format would last before it was changed again.
Pocock has been gradually building towards a return to Super Rugby in the Brumbies' season opener against the Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium on February 13.
The 26-year-old resumes full training on Monday and he will be joined by 14 of Canberra's best players, who have been invited to bolster the ranks until the Wallabies return from the European spring tour.
Larkham said Brumbies captain Stephen Moore (knee), Scott Fardy (knee), Siliva Siliva and Sean Doyle (knee) would all rejoin the group over the coming weeks.
"There's three guys that won't reintegrate – Stephen Moore, Scott Fardy, Siliva Siliva – who won't integrate fully [with the rest of the group] until after Christmas, the rest of them should all be coming back through this period now," Larkham said.
"So we've got 24 professionally contracted guys [training] pre-Christmas and then we've bolstered the squad with 14 local players to give us the right numbers for 15-on-15 stuff."
SANZAR announced on Thursday that teams from Japan and Argentina would expand Super Rugby to an 18-team competition from 2016 and beyond.
Larkham finished his playing career with three years at the Ricoh Black Rams in Japan before returning to Canberra to take up the attack coach role with the Brumbies for the 2011 season.
While he said the travel would be tough, he was looking forward to playing against the two new teams.
But Larkham was unsure how long the new format would last, with eight teams, including Japan and Argentina, in a South African group and 10 teams in the Australia-New Zealand group.
"It's every four years you'll be travelling to Japan and every four years you'll be travelling to Argentina," he said.
"Now if the competition runs for four years before they change the format again I'll be surprised.
"It creates a new challenge, it's exciting for the competition, it's turning into a true southern hemisphere competition now ... spanning across to Argentina.
"It's going to strengthen rugby in Argentina and it's going to strengthen rugby in Japan as well – two quality teams coming into the competition in 2016, so it's going to be a very exciting competition."
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