'Baffling, appalling and dangerous': Pocock ruled out after neck rolls
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'Baffling, appalling and dangerous': Pocock ruled out after neck rolls

Wallabies great David Campese has slammed World Rugby for a lack of accountability in protecting David Pocock from an illegal neck-roll tactic after the star flanker was ruled out of Australia's clash against South Africa.

Pocock will miss the Test in Brisbane on Saturday night, succumbing to pain in his neck after being targeted by New Zealand with the use of a dangerous move to dislodge him from his position over the ball at a breakdown.

One of the incidents of a neck roll in the Test against the All Blacks.

One of the incidents of a neck roll in the Test against the All Blacks.Credit:Fox Sports

His absence is a massive blow for the Wallabies' hopes of resurrecting their Rugby Championship campaign, but World Rugby and SANZAAR remain silent on the dangerous neck-roll issue threatening Pocock's longevity.

Pete Samu has been recalled to the Test squad and will be elevated to starting XV to fill the No. 8 role after Pocock failed to get through the team' last training session on Friday.

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The Wallabies will suffer without Pocock, but the players who twisted his neck avoided any sanction or warning from referees or the World Rugby citing commissioner.

World Cup-winning flanker David Wilson and ACT Brumbies coach Dan McKellar have joined a chorus of calls for a neck-roll crackdown, fearing officials won't act until someone suffers a serious injury.

Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper also added his voice to the conversation on Friday, hoping Pocock's injury would be the trigger for a change in process to stamp neck rolls out of the game.

SANZAAR, the governing body of Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship, says it will not issue a special edict to match officials to punish anyone who grabs a player around the neck.

There are laws to protect players' heads and necks, but none have been enforced when Pocock was the target of neck rolls in Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship.

Sidelined: David Pocock has been ruled out of the South Africa Test due to injury.

Sidelined: David Pocock has been ruled out of the South Africa Test due to injury.Credit:RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley

The frustration of failing to punish players stems from World Rugby's strong stance on other issues, including high tackles, dangerous play or intentional knock downs, while no action is taken on neck rolls.

Campese hit out on Instagram, saying: "Why do we have laws in rugby that are not enforced?

"The neck roll is illegal and very dangerous. As a parent with kids that play the game and a coach of grassroots rugby, I am appalled at an oversight of this nature. Where is the accountability from the referee or the IRB [World Rugby]."

Wilson, the Wallabies' No. 7 in the World Cup triumph in 1999, added: "It's not just David, it's any player in a ruck situation over the ball.

"If this is the way teams are going to move players off the ball, it's a worry. It's something that has to be closely looked at because yes, you protect the head. But you've got to protect the neck as well.

The Hurricanes targeted Pocock's neck during the Super Rugby season.

The Hurricanes targeted Pocock's neck during the Super Rugby season.Credit:Fox Sports

"The thing is [Pocock] is so strong. There is the technique where you twist players' upper bodies to roll them off the ball. But [Pocock] is like a piece of concrete. They're now going to the weakest point, turn the neck and the body follows.

"It's a wrestling technique ... they can't move him and the last resort is to try to turn him with their hands around his head and neck, which is not great. "They've got to crackdown on it.

"The last thing you want is someone coming up with a neck injury because it hasn't been policed."

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Super Rugby officials failed to act on the problem during the Brumbies' season, despite pleas from the ACT side to give Pocock fair protection when competing for the ball.

The Otago Highlanders escaped punishment for a neck roll and the Wellington Hurricanes avoided on-field penalties when they twisted Pocock's neck at Canberra Stadium at the end of June.

SANZAAR did issue post-game warnings to Gareth Evans and Julian Savea. Evans was warned for making contact above the line of the shoulders, while Savea was warned for an illegal cleanout.

The Brumbies were told the incidents did not meet the red-card threshold, and therefore the players were not suspended.

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"My concern is that it's not being treated seriously," said Brumbies coach McKellar.

"Whether that's Pocock, [Michael] Hooper ... whoever it is. If a player is brave enough to put their head over a breakdown at this level, they understand they're going to be a target.

"David understands he's going to be a target because he's the best in the world at that skill. They don't have a problem with being cleaned-out legally.

"But when you start pulling and twisting guys heads ... I find it baffling that guys are getting yellow cards for knocking a ball down when going for an intercept, then we've got potentially serious injury and we turn a blind eye.

"Think of the NRL with the chicken wing, the crusher tackle, they were ruled out quickly and treated harshly. It shouldn't be any different at the breakdown.

"Whether it's a Brumbies player or anyone, you don't want them exposed to head and neck injuries. It just has to be ruled out, but until the powers that be start to see the importance of it and how dangerous it is, nothing will changed."

RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP

Saturday: Wallabies v South Africa at Suncorp Stadium, 8.05pm.

Wallabies: 1. Scott Sio, 2. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 3. Allan Alaalatoa, 4. Rory Arnold, 5. Adam Coleman, 6. Lukhan Tui, 7. Michael Hooper, 8. David Pocock, 9. Will Genia, 10. Kurtley Beale, 11. Marika Koroibete, 12. Matt Toomua, 13. Reece Hodge, 14. Dane Haylett-Petty, 15. Israel Folau. Reserves: 16. Folau Faingaa, 17. Tom Robertson, 18. Taniela Tupou, 19. Izack Rodda, 20. Ned Hanigan, 21. Joe Powell, 22. Bernard Foley, 23. Jack Maddocks.