Rugby Union

Guarding rhinos could help extend Wallabies and Brumbies star David Pocock's career

It was just one day's training with a dedicated group of Zimbabwe rhino guards, but ACT Brumbies flanker David Pocock says those breaks from rugby help him "freshen up" and could help extend his career.

But Pocock, off contract at the end of 2016, is still unsure where the next stage of his career will take him as he continues talks with the Brumbies and the Australian Rugby Union.

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The rhino-saving Wallaby

There's no rest for David Pocock during the off-season, as the Wallabies star spends his holidays training with the Malilangwe scouts, a group of men in charge of protecting the rhinos of Zimbabwe.

The World Cup star spent a day training with anti-poaching scouts in Malilangwe, which was an experience that allowed him the best of both worlds - training to ensure he is fit for the upcoming Super Rugby season, while also getting completely away from rugby.

He said the scouts were not big, but they were "exceptionally fit" and could run and walk all day in their roles of protecting the dwindling white rhino population.

Time away: David Pocock says taking time out from rugby union to train with Zimbabwe rhino guards could help prolong his ...
Time away: David Pocock says taking time out from rugby union to train with Zimbabwe rhino guards could help prolong his career. 

At the end of a long year - when Pocock not only helped the Brumbies to the Super Rugby semi-finals, but was also instrumental in getting Australia to the World Cup final against New Zealand - he said it helped take his mind off rugby, which could in turn help prolong his career.

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"I think that mental break's key. Physically and mentally at the end of the international season you're pretty cooked," he said.

"Finding a space away from rugby to physically freshen up - you still obviously have to train - but mentally to get away from the game and experience something a bit different.

"I hope [it helps keep me in the game longer], I think it does. This is my 11th season now, I'm still enjoying it."

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was in Canberra last week speaking to Pocock, while there were reports Pocock was set to turn his back on lucrative offers from Europe to stay in Canberra.

But Pocock, who Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced as ACT Australia Day ambassador on Thursday, said that was yet to be decided.

He does not want contract negotiations to linger on, but he was not in a rush to get them done.

"It's something we're still thinking about and have started talking to the ARU and Brumbies about," Pocock said.

"It's just one of those parts in professional rugby is deciding what's the next step and we'll wait and see."

Meanwhile, SANZAR was expected to announce a revamp of the bonus-point system for Super Rugby, to try and promote more free-flowing rugby.

The governing body is considering scrapping the bonus point for scoring four or more tries and replacing it with a bonus point for scoring at least three more tries than your opponent.

But Pocock had no idea whether the proposed rule change would have the desired effect, leaving that to Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham to work out.

Instead he was focused on getting ready for the season ahead.

He said the Brumbies were going "as well as they could be at this point", but they wouldn't get a "gauge of where you're at in that first trial" - against the NSW Waratahs in Wagga Wagga on February 6.

"We were really disappointed to lose in that semi [to the Wellington Hurricanes] last year," Pocock said.

"In terms of team a lot of guys have played in those combinations for a few years now so hopefully we can build on that."