Brumbies flanker David Pocock. Photo: Melissa Adams
It was not until Fotu Auelua saw footage of David Pocock's ACT Brumbies debut against the Queensland Reds that he realised just how much work the Wallabies captain did.
And the Brumbies are expecting Pocock to be even more influential in his second game, against the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park on Friday night.
Auelua came off the bench and slotted into the back row with Pocock for the first time on Saturday. The human wrecking ball was impressed by what he saw and his respect only grew when he reviewed the game.
Brumbies recruit David Pocock has gained the respect of his teammates. Photo: Melissa Adams
He thought Pocock's ability to get to seemingly every breakdown and his knack of stealing the ball at critical moments of the game would be crucial to the Brumbies' success this year.
''[Pocock] is a world-class player and you don't really see what he's doing on the field until you revisit the game,'' Auelua said. ''Just to know that you've got a player beside you like Pocock - it gives you a lot of … confidence … He'll do his job and do it really well.''
Fellow back-rower Peter Kimlin agrees. ''I think the thing about world-class No.7s is you don't notice them on the field because they're just everywhere,'' he said. ''It's pretty similar to George Smith in that way - every game he got points from every single player because he was so dominant in everything he did.''
Auelua managed 29 minutes off the bench against the Reds and is hoping for more in Melbourne. But he realises there is plenty of competition for spots in the back row, and if his role is to come off the bench and be a ''hitman'', then so be it.
The 29-year-old is competing with Kimlin and Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen to get into the starting line-up. Pocock and whoever are chosen will form a powerful back row that will use its physicality as a weapon.
Against the Rebels they face Welsh international and Melbourne captain Gareth Delve and Wallabies blindside flanker Scott Higginbotham.
It's set to be an even more physical contest than against the Reds - and physicality is a part of the game Auelua relishes.
''We've got to approach every game with the same mentality that it is going to be a physical battle up front. Each week we've got to prepare for each team pretty similarly.''
If Brumbies coach Jake White picks the same starting back row for the Melbourne game, then Kimlin will be up against the 23-cap Higginbotham.
A good showing by the big red-headed Brumby could put himself in the frame to add to his two Test appearances, made before injury halted his career.
Kimlin is off-contract at the end of the season and is reviewing his options. He is considering a move to either Europe or Japan, but a Wallabies call-up could help keep him in Canberra a bit longer.
''It should be good [playing against Higginbotham] - not just him but the Rebels in general,'' Kimlin said. … I think they'd strike themselves as a bit of an aggressive, forward-dominant team. I like to test myself against that, that's for sure.''
Meanwhile, an ultrasound has cleared Brumbies flyer Henry Speight of anything more serious than bruised ribs, keeping him in the selection mix. Speight left the ground on Saturday night in an ambulance with suspected broken ribs, but now has until Thursday to prove his fitness. If he does not recover in time, the Brumbies have a ready-made replacement in rugby league convert Joe Tomane.
Super Rugby, round 2: Melbourne Rebels v ACT Brumbies at AAMI Park, 7.40pm.
TV time: Live on Fox Sports 2.