Melbourne - Australia flank David Pocock is relishing the prospect of facing
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw again after two seasons wiped out by knee
Pocock started at openside flank in Australia's 34-9 win against Argentina
on Saturday, his first match in the number seven shirt in over two and a half
years, and his performance earned high praise from Wallabies coach Michael
Australia will clash with the world champion All Blacks in the abridged
Rugby Championship title-decider in two weeks, a match likely to be McCaw's
swansong on Australian soil.
Before undergoing two knee reconstructions that forced him to miss the 2013
and 2014 seasons, Pocock's match-ups with McCaw were billed as unofficial
battles for the title of the world's best openside flank.
Pocock may have a chance to re-stake his claim in the August 8 match in
Sydney against 34-year-old McCaw, who is expected to bow out of rugby after the
All Blacks' World Cup defence.
"It's always a big occasion playing the All Blacks and he's been right
up there for a very long time," the 27-year-old Pocock said in comments
published by the Sydney Morning Herald.
"He's a player I really respect and (I) relish those moments."
A ferocious tackler and ball-pilferer, Pocock replaced Michael Hooper for
the Argentina match after the former captain started at seven in the tight home
win against South Africa.
Pundits have urged Cheika to try both players in the back row and the coach
duly obliged in Mendoza by having Pocock shift to number eight when Hooper came
off the bench.
Barring injury, both are almost certain to feature in the World Cup squad
which will go some way to correcting a historical error before the last tournament.
Former coach Robbie Deans had Pocock as his sole openside in his 2011 squad,
which backfired when the Brumby player was injured ahead of a
tournament-defining pool match against Ireland.
Australia lost, and though Pocock returned to play an important role in the
quarter-final win over South Africa, the Wallabies were condemned to face the
eventual champion All Blacks in the last four.
"Competition is exactly what you want to be having," Pocock said.
"The only year we were struggling was in 2011 going into the World Cup
and we only took one No 7 and that stung us a bit.
"It's great with Hoops out there because we enjoy feeding off each