Rugby Union

World Cup-winning Wallabies Nick Farr-Jones and Stephen Larkham dismiss claims David Pocock couldn't captain Australia again

World Cup winning captain Nick Farr-Jones dismissed suggestions David Pocock's strong views on social issues would stop the ACT Brumbies flanker captaining the Wallabies again.

While Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham emphasised what happened in the Brumbies-NSW Waratahs game "had nothing to do with David Pocock and everything to do with Jaques Potgieter". 

Nick Farr-Jones says David Pocock can still captain the Wallabies.
Nick Farr-Jones says David Pocock can still captain the Wallabies. Photo: Getty Images

The Australian Rugby Union fined Potgieter $20,000 on Monday for homophobic comments he made during Sunday's Super Rugby game.

Pocock brought those comments to the attention of the referee.

Former Wallaby Greg Martin said Pocock's stance would prevent him from reclaiming the Wallabies' captaincy he held in 2012 before back-to-back knee injuries interrupted his career.

Martin said the ARU  would be concerned Pocock would use the platform as a "soapbox".


But Farr-Jones dismissed that suggestion and said it shouldn't affect Pocock's Wallabies future.

He said the Wallabies captain could have strong views on social issues, provided they weren't "contrary to the game's ethics".

Farr-Jones said he ignored the ARU when they told him he wasn't allowed to comment on South Africa in 1992, when the anti-apartheid boycotts ended and they began playing international rugby again.

He said if Pocock was offended by what Potgieter said then he was "totally within his rights" to notify the referee.

Farr-Jones and Pocock were both ambassadors for last year's Bingham Cup - the World Cup of gay rugby - and Farr-Jones praised ARU chief executive Bill Pulver for acting swiftly.

"I don't think that will have any bearing on who will be a Wallaby captain," he said.

"Back in '92 I was told at one stage I couldn't make comments about South Africa and that's a load of rubbish.

"If you've got strong views on some things by all means express them, as long as you're not saying anything contrary to the game's ethics then absolutely have strong views ... that's what leadership is about."

Larkham said Pocock should bear no blame for comments made by Waratahs forward Potgieter.

Potgieter apologised for his homophobic slurs, which he labelled an "offhand remark".

"What happened on the weekend has nothing to do with David Pocock," Larkham said.

"It has everything to do with Jaques Potgieter and it was brought to the attention of the referee by a number of players and SANZAR have dealt with that issue.

"Drawing parallels to what Potgieter said on the weekend and David Pocock's future is a stretch.

"I don't see how you can draw conclusions from that to captaining the Wallabies."

Former Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock said Pocock's stance would play a role in whether Pocock captained the Wallabies again, but he had no concerns about the Brumbies vice-captain getting on his soapbox.

He said the 26-year-old hadn't used his Wallabies captaincy that way in the past and didn't expect him to if he regained the role in the future.

"Whether it be fantastic initiatives or not so fantastic ones, whatever you do in the public domain will affect and impact on you being a leader," Mortlock said.

"No [it's not a concern he'd use the position as a soapbox] and I don't think he ever has. Every time he has represented the nation he's done fantastically well as both a player and a leader.

"However, when you are representing your country everything weighs into it.

"As long as [your personal beliefs] doesn't impact [on the field] then there's no drama at all."

Farr-Jones didn't envisage Pocock's stance  creating a rift between the Brumbies and Waratahs players when they come together for Australian duties.

If it did, it meant there were  "deep-rooted problems in the camp".

Wallabies coaching staff will find out quickly if there is a rift at this weekend's camp in Brisbane.

But Australia backs coach Larkham didn't think it would be an issue  and  said the sole focus of the camp was preparing for this year's World Cup in England and Wales, which starts in September.

"The reason for having camps is to make sure when the Wallabies get together at the end of the year, we're all on the same page," he said.

Larkham said Brumbies flyhalf Matt Toomua had no concussion concerns after he got a knock to the neck against the Waratahs.