David Pocock and Rhys Howden together again - in rehab

A decade ago, Rhys Howden was giving David Pocock sporting tips, but lately it’s been Pocock’s turn to play mentor to Australia’s water polo captain and two-time Olympian.  

The pair have plenty of history together, having both played water polo for the Brisbane Barracudas club, as well as on Queensland representative teams.

Rhys Hoden and David Pocock.
Rhys Hoden and David Pocock. Photo: Jamila Toderas

Pocock’s water polo career was brief, only taking up the sport when he moved from Zimbabwe to Brisbane in year 9.

"I was never quite as good as Rhys, he was the star in the team, I was just the centre-forward they used to get to distract players and he’d put them in the net,'' he said.

"I reckon it’s probably rougher than rugby - a lot goes on under water.''

Howden, whose dad Phil - an Olympic water polo player - coached the Barracudas, said Pocock showed promise in the water despite his late start.


''He was very green at the time, skill-wise he was a bit off,'' Howden said.

''He was always bigger than everyone else, as he is now, pretty strong, so we threw him in at centre forward and he made ends meet of all the littler guys.

''His skills he had to work on but he got there and made a few state teams with me.''

Pocock was more modest about his achievements but said the sport was appreciated by his mum and dad.

''They were just glad I’d given up cricket because they could come and watch a half hour game rather than spending the whole day watching me field then get bowled for a duck,'' he said with a laugh.  

While Pocock moved away from the pool to focus on rugby, more recently he and Howden have shared the misfortune of requiring knee reconstructions - both from football injuries.

Howden tore his anterior cruciate ligament playing a casual game of touch football; Pocock tore his ACL for the second time two months earlier, so knew what his friend was going through.

''This is my first ever major injury, and obviously Dave’s been through it a lot of times,'' Howden said as they caught up at the Australian Institute of Sport, where the Aussie Sharks are in camp.

''He actually sent me a text message when he heard the news, and just said 'keep your head up, keep moving forward, get the rehab sorted [and] be really religious with it'.''

With the demands on the knee greater in rugby than the non-weight bearing sport, Pocock said their rehab routines were different.

"But mentally we’re going through similar things, watching the team, not being able to train, all those sorts of things, so that’s the thing we talked about - the frustrations and all that comes with missing out.''