Pocock injury leaves a sour taste as ACT hammer Tahs
Brumbies 35 Waratahs 6
THE ACT Brumbies are stamping themselves as a true Super Rugby contender but the sweet taste of a perfect start to the season has been offset by a potential season-ending injury to marquee recruit David Pocock.
Pocock injured his knee after just 13 minutes and he left the field with a suspected ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in the Brumbies' clash with the NSW Waratahs at Canberra Stadium.
The star flanker went for scans after the match and will learn on Sunday if he will be able to get back on the field this year.
But while his injury is a massive blow to both the Brumbies and the Wallabies, the ACT side delivered a rousing performance against its arch-rivals to secure a crushing 35-6 win over the Waratahs in front of 20,027 fans - the biggest home crowd in five years.
The 24-year-old Pocock could be sidelined for up to nine months if scans confirm his ACL was torn when he fell backwards awkwardly.
But in perfect timing for a flanker injury blow for the Brumbies - and potentially the Wallabies - ACT legend George Smith stepped in to fill the void and prove he can still dominate Super Rugby after a two-year absence.
The Brumbies are aiming for their first finals appearance since 2004, while the Wallabies are preparing for a blockbuster series against the British and Irish Lions.
"[Pocock] just feels [his knee] is not 100 per cent and he came off. He's thinking positively but we'll know once the scan results come back," Brumbies coach Jake White said.
"[Smith's arrival] shows you how fate turns out … it's fantastic that George has arrived.
"We don't wish anything on Poey, but it just shows how important depth is in this competition and when you've got depth like George, it's even better."
It's now likely Smith will form an openside flanker combination with young gun Colby Faingaa.
Smith signed a short-term deal with the Brumbies which expires at the end of May when he will return to his Japanese club duties with Suntory.
However, if Pocock is out for the rest of the season the Brumbies could ask the 110-Test Wallaby to stay longer and a Wallabies spot in the series against the Lions could also lure him to continue.
If Pocock's ligament is ruptured, he has two options - a traditional reconstruction with a recovery time of nine months or he could opt to have the revolutionary LARS surgery, which could have him back on the field in 12 weeks.
Deans said last week he was not considering luring Smith back to the international arena.
But should the 32-year-old recapture the form that saw him dominate the competition for a decade, he looms as an attractive option for both Deans and White moving forward.
"I didn't expect to get on so early but I was very confident in the way my fitness held up," Smith said.
"I'm very pleased to run out there … [with Pocock's injury] I wouldn't say I'm the No.1 flanker [at the Brumbies]. I'm out there trying to contribute for the team … we've got back-rowers who can play in all positions."
As devastating as Pocock's injury was, the Brumbies showed grit and determination well beyond their years as they trounced the Waratahs in a rivalry clash.
They dominated every aspect of the game and secured a bonus-point win to send them clear at the top of the Australian conference.
More importantly, they didn't concede any points in the second half. After three games, the Brumbies have not leaked any points in the second halves of their contests.
White described it as the "most complete performance" of his 18 months in charge of the Brumbies.
Ben Mowen and Christian Lealiifano scored first-half tries and then Henry Speight and Robbie Coleman sent the crowd into raptures as they secured the win and a bonus point.
It's the first time the Brumbies have won three consecutive games to start a season since 2005.
Even when they lost Sam Carter to the sin bin and the Waratahs charged, the young Brumbies showed maturity to hold firm and stamp their authority on the conference.
The Brumbies will fly to South Africa on Monday morning for games against the Durban Sharks and Cape Town Stormers.
They will be without Wallabies Pocock and Pat McCabe (hamstring) in the 26-man touring squad.
ACT BRUMBIES 35 (Ben Mowen, Christian Lealiifano, Henry Speight, Robbie Coleman tries; Christian Lealiifano 3 penalties; Christian Lealiifano 2, Ian Prior conversions) bt NSW WARATAHS 6 (Brendan McKibbin 2 penalties) at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night. Referee: Jonathan White. Crowd: 20,027.