Rugby Union

David Pocock set to lead Brumbies in Super Rugby opener against Queensland Reds

 David Pocock is shaping as the ACT Brumbies' run-on captain for their Super Rugby season opener against the Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium on Friday night, although coach Stephen Larkham muddied the waters saying the entire squad was fit and available for selection.

That opens the way for Brumbies captain Stephen Moore to make a surprising start as he continues his return from a knee reconstruction.

David Pocock is shaping as the ACT Brumbies' run-on captain for their Super Rugby season opener on Friday night.
David Pocock is shaping as the ACT Brumbies' run-on captain for their Super Rugby season opener on Friday night. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Moore hasn't had any game time this pre-season and a cameo off the bench in the second half would be the more likely scenario.

But Larkham could decide to call on the Wallabies hooker's 131 Super Rugby games and 92 Tests of experience and throw him straight back into the action.

ACT Brumbies player Stephen Moore during training on Monday.
ACT Brumbies player Stephen Moore during training on Monday. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

The safer approach would be to ease him back via the bench.

Given Siliva Siliva (knee)  also hasn't played during the pre-season trials, Josh Mann-Rea looks most likely to wear the No.2 jersey on Friday night.

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"There is a good chance [Moore will play]," Larkham said.

"So far this week everyone has come through unscathed, everyone has passed their rehab program and everyone is available for selection this weekend."

If, as expected,  Moore doesn't start, then  one of the Brumbies' two vice-captains will stand in as skipper, with Pocock emerging as the obvious choice ahead of scrumhalf  Nic White, who is off to France after the Rugby World Cup.

Larkham said until the starting XV to face the Reds was finalised then he wouldn't know who would be captain.

But Fairfax Media believes Pocock, who has captained both the Wallabies and the Western Force, will take on the role, despite coming back from his second knee reconstruction in as many years.

"We got a very good indication of who would take the role if Stephen Moore isn't fit and the other two are fit," Larkham said.

"We got a good indication out of the trial matches who will be the best candidate there."

Larkham said the Brumbies were "itching to get out there" and were "treading water" in the lead-up to the Reds clash.

He was expecting  a rejuvenated Queensland this Super Rugby campaign after they finished 13th last year.

They've been bolstered by recruits James O'Connor, Karmichael Hunt and former All Black Adam Thomson and Larkham felt they had quality in both the forwards and backs.

"You have a look at their trial form and they appear a lot better than they were last year," he said.

"There's good physicality in their forward pack, their set piece was pretty spot on, defensively at set piece they were also very good and their backline was very dynamic ... they're a very dangerous team."

Larkham also felt Reds scrumhalf Will Genia was getting back to his best and would be a massive loss to Australian rugby if he  moves to France after the Rugby World Cup.

"He's certainly transformed his game a little bit. Last year his running game had gone, but this year so far in the trial matches we've seen him be a little bit more adventurous," he said.

"It's certainly an aspect of their game that's very dangerous, him taking opportunities around the ruck and down the short sides.

"He reads the game really well and he's certainly getting back to his best.

"He'll be a big loss, just as White is a big loss."

Larkham expected to finalise a deal to become Wallabies back coach during the season.

The Brumbies' season opener against the Reds will also be prop Ben Alexander's 100th game.

SUPER RUGBY ROUND ONE

Friday: ACT Brumbies v Queensland Reds, at Canberra Stadium, 7.40pm