Brumbies captain Stephen Moore has backed star flanker David Pocock to continue his world-class form, even if his contract negotiations extend throughout the opening stages of the Super Rugby season.
Pocock was unimpressed that news of his potential path to the next World Cup became public before he had the chance to tell his teammates in Canberra. He did that earlier in the week, according to coach Stephen Larkham, after his possible sabbatical was revealed.
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Pocock is tossing up the option of spending 2017 in the UK studying at an Oxbridge university before returning to Australia to prepare for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
And Larkham knows that would be just one of the options on the table as clubs around the globe court one of the best players in the game, who capped his return season from injury with a brilliant World Cup in England.
The Brumbies had hoped for a resolution before the start of the Super Rugby season in a fortnight, but there appears to be little reason for Pocock to rush one of the biggest contractual calls of his professional career.
Larkham said on Friday night in Brisbane that he hoped to have something concrete "in the next month or so" and the ball was in the court of Pocock and his manager. Pocock was unavailable for interviews on Friday after the Brumbies' trial win over the Reds.
"It was disappointing that it came out the way it came out," Larkham said. "Poey and his manager wanted to keep it quiet and tell the right people before it came out. It was disappointing for him and us as well.
"He did [address the players]. But it wasn't great, the news had already broken a little bit. He basically said he hadn't made a decision and apologised for the way that information came out without telling the boys he was considering all of those options."
Moore went through a series of recent contract negotiations of his own before electing to join the Reds from next season. He didn't seem convinced that Pocock would be sprinting towards a decision by opening night but said it mattered little.
"He's very mentally tough," Moore said. "He's dealing with all of that stuff. As a teammate, he hasn't imposed it on us and it hasn't been a distraction at all.
"I can imagine there are plenty of guys in his ear and giving him advice. You'd expect that but he's handled it really well. It won't affect his play at all.
"These days you get used to that stuff. It's commonplace. Contract negotiations are part of what we do. I went through it recently. You'd love to have it all squared away before you play but that's not always the case."
Larkham said he had spoken to Pocock one-on-one to get a "feel" for any potential decision he might make. He understands there are likely to be any number of offers landing on the table on the desk of his management firm, with the Reds obviously keen to lure him back to his home state.
The Brumbies coach and Wallabies assistant said he wouldn't put any pressure on Pocock, saying the openside star needed to make his own call in his own time, although reality dictates his employer can't wait forever as it tries to plan.
"He really hasn't gone into any detail," Larkham said. "I've no doubt he has offers from all around the world. He hasn't been sharing that stuff. He's got to make his decision. They're not easy ones to make. He's taking his time.
"I've had a word to him about what he's thinking about. I just want to get a feel for what he's going through and what he wants for his life."