Rugby Union


Pocock helps from sidelines

He can't run and won't be on the field, but star flanker David Pocock is preparing to increase his workload to take pressure off his Wallabies teammates as they chase history against the British and Irish Lions. He will miss a once-in-a-career opportunity when the Wallabies take on the Lions in a three-Test series in June and July after having a knee reconstruction in March.

But while a trip to Thursday Island this week is a world away from the on-field preparations, it's part of Pocock playing his role in ''alleviating the extra commitments'' on the squad for the blockbuster two months.

Instead of fine-tuning his game to help lead the Wallabies and playing for the ACT Brumbies against the Wellington Hurricanes, Pocock was king of the kids at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Primary School on Thursday Island.

The trip to the island off the northern tip of Queensland with Wallabies great Glen Ella was part of a Walla Rugby Week prize and National Reconciliation Week.

And as Australia's premier No.7 continues his recovery from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, Pocock is desperate to still be a part of the Wallabies campaign.

''I see my role as being able to alleviate the extra commitments that come with the Lions tour, I'll do things the starting 22 usually have to so I'll take that hit,'' Pocock said.


''That will free up guys like James Horwill and Will Genia to focus on the Test matches. We haven't nutted out the finer details at the moment, but I'll be doing my rehab program while guys are training and then outside of that helping with bits and pieces.''

Far removed from the racism in the AFL surrounding Collingwood president Eddie McGuire and his comments relating to Sydney star Adam Goodes, Pocock and Ella were breaking down barriers on Thursday Island.

They hosted coaching clinics and a question-and-answer session at a school where most students have to travel an hour by ferry from Hammond Island to get to class.

For Pocock it was a good way to take his mind off having to miss a series he's been looking forward to since making his Wallabies debut in 2008.

''You realise how hard it is for kids in those remote communities to have access to the same opportunities that kids in the cities take for granted. It's a pretty different way of life,'' Pocock said.

Pocock expects Lions skipper Sam Warburton - who he came up against in the Wallabies' battles with Wales last year - to be the visitors' ''go-to man''.

With Pocock out for the season and great George Smith also battling a knee injury, Liam Gill and Michael Hooper are the Wallabies' openside flankers who will be tasked with taking on Warburton.

''It's a great core group of players [for the Wallabies] … with the quality group we'll have going into the Lions series, it's a lot less about who's on the field and the attitude the group has,'' Pocock said.