Rugby

Warburton to stop Pocock

2011-12-02 07:47
David Pocock (AP)
Cardiff - Wales coach Warren Gatland believes Wallabies openside breakaway David Pocock can be stopped, but his direct opposite, Sam Warburton, knows that's no easy task, arguing he is about to confront the world's best No 7.

The prize duel during Saturday's Test will be between Warburton, easily the northern hemisphere's best openside, and Pocock, who vies with Richie McCaw and Heinrich Brussow as the superior scavenger of the south.

Gatland, when announcing the Welsh Test team, said he was looking forward to the No 7 encounter, adding some spice by arguing that Warburton had the measure of Pocock last year in Cardiff.

Warburton assumed that during the World Cup he would encounter either Pocock or McCaw at the final or third-place final stage, but that didn't occur after he was suspended for a dangerous tackle during the semi-final. This week, Warburton admitted to being ''gutted'' by the suspension, because it marred his chance of coming up against the best in his position. But this weekend he gets his opportunity against an opponent he respects immensely.

''He [Pocock] is the toughest one to play against,'' Warburton said. ''His strength over the ball and his timing are impeccable. There are a lot of strong, squat people in the jackal position [the footballer on his feet challenging for the ball at the tackle], but he's the best at it.''

Further out there will also be crucial encounters, in particular in the centres, where the Welsh midfield will monster their opponents - with Jamie Roberts and Scott Williams having a weight advantage of 32 kilograms over Berrick Barnes and Rob Horne.

Then again, the Wallabies cannot fault the willpower of either of their centres. Barnes is a committed defender, while in one of the Wallabies' most recent internationals, Horne showed he is the most courageous of characters. In the World Cup pool match against the USA in Wellington, Horne fractured his cheekbone in the first tackle of the game after a clash of heads. Despite suffering incredible pain, Horne kept playing, scoring the first try of the match in the eighth minute, and was not replaced until the 48th minute.

When asked how painful it was to remain on the field, Horne said yesterday: ''I looked at a replay of the incident a couple of days after, and it was a pretty solid head clash.

''When it happened I told the guys around me that I was battling a bit. I was fine until the half-time break. During the break, the adrenalin dropped a bit and it was pretty tough to get going after that.''

Horne never considered leaving the field during the first half. ''That was my first game of the World Cup, and I had been sitting in the stands for a few weeks,'' he said. ''I had some of my family there watching, and it was a huge, proud moment both for them and me.''

Read more on:    david pocock  |  sam warburton
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