ROBBIE DEANS remains hopeful of getting champion flanker David Pocock on the paddock for the final game of the Wallabies' European tour against Wales in Cardiff next weekend.
Pocock has been struggling with a calf strain which has delayed his long-awaited comeback.
The No.7 was expected to return in the second Test of the tour against England at Twickenham but suffered a setback training in Paris the week before.
Deans says it's so far so good for ACT Brumbies recruit Pocock, who hasn't played since suffering knee ligament damage in the Wallabies' opening Bledisloe Cup match with New Zealand in August.
''He's been running this week and hopefully he'll be available next week,'' Deans said.
''We're just being precautionary and we've got the luxury of being able to do that. We've got Hoops (Michael Hooper) and Gilly (Liam Gill) and they're both fully fit so there's no reason to push David.''
The Wallabies coach suspects if they didn't have so much cover in the No.7 spot Pocock could have played in the third game of the tour against Italy.
''If pressed he could have played this week, yes, but if he's not 100 [per cent] you won't see him in Cardiff,'' he said.
Being so close to making his return and having a late setback has been tough on the ultra-competitive Pocock but Deans said the flanker had handled himself with distinction and put the team first on the tour.''It's not an easy role to play for him. Generally when he's been fit he's played but he's been great around the group and has been helping a lot with our preparation,'' Deans said.
In Pocock's absence, Michael Hooper has been outstanding with the NSW Waratahs recruit picking up the man-of-the-match award in Australia's gritty 20-14 win over England.