Star flanker David Pocock is backing under fire Wallabies coach Michael Cheika but says he has concerns of a different kind over his own neck.
Pocock, who won two Rugby Union Players’ Association awards last night, offered his support for Cheika as Rugby Australia continues a review of the Wallabies’ poor 2018 campaign.
RA’s decisions are expected before Christmas, following Cheika’s presentation to the RA board on Monday and feedback from his coaching staff, players and the high performance area.
Australia won just four of 13 Tests, with Pocock the star of the campaign after returning from a 2017 sabbatical.
Pocock said he had a lot of respect for Cheika but speculation over the coach’s position hadn’t been a distraction.
“There’s probably not a huge amount of value getting players to start talking about it because its a decision for people higher up the chain; it’s really out of our hands” Pocock said.
“I love the guy, I’ve learnt a huge amount from him so like everyone else we’ll wait and see what happens and move on.”
Pocock suffered from a number of neck rolls through the rugby season and missed Tests against South Africa and England
“It’s still pretty sore to be honest, I usually go away for December, try and get to Zimbabwe,” said Pocock , who was born in the African nation.
“But I decided this year I wanted to spend the time trying to get my body right for next year.
“I recognise that next year is hopefully my biggest year of rugby. I want to be playing the best rugby I’ve played and physically be able to do that.
“I’ve got some real concerns in the neck; it’s caused me a fair bit of grief.
“You’re concerned about not being able to play and in the back of your head, when you talk to the medical professionals they are trying to remind you about life after rugby.
“So it’s something I guess I’m going to have to really manage and be smart with and I don’t even know what that looks like at the moment.”
Despite Australia’s woes this year, Pocock was convinced they would still be a strong challenger for the 2019 World Cup.
“I am. I don’t think a lot of people are giving us a big shot and if you go on results that’s probably rightly so (but) I’ve got a huge amount of confidence in (captain Michael Hooper).”