Brumbies must keep Pocock quiet
David Pocock, one of Australia's leading lights in the forwards. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Wallaby and Force captain David Pocock has a two-fold mission tomorrow night in Perth – dent the Brumbies’ chances of reaching the finals series for the first time since 2004, and staying in front of the Australian Super Player-of-the-Year contenders.
The Brumbies must win all three away games against the Force, Waratahs, and Auckland Blues to cement their place on top of the Australian Conference to automatically qualify.
But the ask is big, especially with Pocock to contend with first up, and the emotional farewell to veteran lock Nathan Sharpe in his last game at home before he rides off into the rugby sunset after a stellar career.
While Pocock was clearly the Wallabies’ best in the 3-0 series win over Wales, he’s not one to seek personal accolades as a first and foremost team man.
But he’s never won the prestige award despite being a genuine and worthy contender for the last three years. And he deserves it.
As it sits, Pocock leads with 17 points from Scott Higginbotham 15, Kurtley Beale 14, with last year’s winner, Will Genia, and Australian under 20 captain, Liam Gill, both on 13, and Wycliff Palu on 12.
While the Brumbies don’t boast a contender, the Canberra-based franchise is by far the best performed in the Australian Conference, and it would be an injustice if they fell over in the run home.
They have scored more points than the other four franchises (341), and given up less (269), leaving the Brumbies as the only Australian franchise in credit, with plus-72 for and against.
While the experienced twosome of Pocock and Sharpe can poop the Brumbies party in Perth, tonight in Melbourne, two tall timber rookie locks, Caderyn Neville and Hugh Pyle, will be all out to do the same to the embattled Reds, bristling with Wallabies.
While the Rebels have Beale and James O’Connor, and to a far lesser extent Nick Phipps and Cooper Vuna, it will be Neville and Pyle who will be keen to stamp their Wallaby credentials.
They are tomorrow’s locks: Neville at 6 foot 8 and 120kgs, Pyle 6 foot 7 and 116kgs.
Not only are they both seriously big and very mobile units, but it’s exciting to watch them strut their stuff.
In the roughly 65 years I’ve been watching the Wallabies and Australian provincial sides, I have never seen two locks of that size in the same team.
This is a massive game for the Reds with no option but to win all three remaining rounds to have a chance to defend their Super crown, with their final two games, against the Highlanders and Waratahs, at their Suncorp fortress where they grow a leg.
It promises to be a fascinating finale in the finals race to a fascinating tournament.
Wallabes vs Wales - Scott Allen's match highlights -