News24

Pocock back from injury

2011-04-29 07:50

Sydney - Wallabies openside flanker David Pocock faces a big test on his return to Vodacom Super Rugby this weekend - a face off with All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.

Pocock suffered medial ligament damage to his right knee in the Western Force's second game of the season and has missed seven matches as the Perth-based outfit have struggle to make an impact on the provincial championship.

The 22-year-old's ball-pilfering skills have made him one of the main pretenders to McCaw's status as the world's best number seven and he will get an early chance to go up against the Kiwi master when the Force host the Canterbury Crusaders on Saturday.

"You want to play against the best players," Pocock said earlier this week. "I guess growing up I watched a lot of him playing and when I got to play against him it was a great thrill.

"It's something I still really enjoy doing. He's been one of the benchmark number sevens for a long time now."

McCaw will be making his first start of the season as the Crusaders look to get their title challenge back on track after being upset 26-18 by the Otago Highlanders in his absence last weekend.

"I'm keen to get out on the field to be honest," he told the Crusaders' website (www.crusaders.co.nz).

The 30-year-old, restricted to less than half an hour of action off the bench this season, has been named at number eight for the match, although his role is unlikely to change much.

While the Crusaders are riding high in the standings, the Force will be looking for their fourth win of a disappointing season on Saturday.

Pocock said it had been "very hard" to sit on the sidelines while his team had been struggling but he had managed to keep himself busy during the layoff.

"You feel pretty helpless. I decided I had to do something to keep me sane and I got stuck right into the garden," Pocock added.

"I ripped out the spa and ripped the deck out and my brother helped me make it into a table. My dad's been over for the weekend and he helped me dig out the front area and we are going to put some fruit trees in there."

Another Wallaby making a return from injury this weekend is Waratahs back Berrick Barnes, who will be at flyhalf when New South Wales take on the Melbourne Rebels in Sydney on Saturday after four weeks out with concussion.

Teams

Western Force:
15 Cameron Shepherd, 14 Nick Cummins, 13 Patrick Dellit, 12 James O'Connor, 11 David Smith, 10 Willie Ripia, 9 Brett Sheehan, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 David Pocock, 6 Richard Brown, 5 Nathan Sharpe (captain), 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Matt Dunning, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan

Substitutes: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Kieran Longbottom, 18 Matt Hodgson, 19 Tevita Metuisela, 20 James Stannard, 21 Rory Sidey, 22 Alfie Mafi

Crusaders:
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Matt Berquist, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Richie McCaw (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Chris Jack, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett

Substitutes: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Owen Franks, 18 Joe Wheeler/Reuben Thorne, 19 Jonathan Poff, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tom Marshall, 22 Adam Whitelock


Reuters