Pocock, Smith to team up against Waratahs

By David Barbeler, David Barbeler is a Roar Guru

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    Brumbies coach Jake White says former Test No.7 George Smith will come off the bench to run in tandem with David Pocock against the Waratahs in Canberra this Saturday night.

    Smith arrived in Canberra last week to rejoin the club on a short-term contract after helping his Japanese club Suntory to their fifth title.

    With the duo to go tag team against former Brumbies player and Test back-up flanker Michael Hooper, the Wallabies’ master, incumbent and apprentice could be be going hell for leather at the breakdown at the same time.

    Smith will likely come on at blindside flanker, which won’t greatly affect the set-play with the three main lineout jumper options being No.8 Ben Mowen and locks Scott Fardy and Sam Carter.

    White told reporters on Tuesday that while he hadn’t officially announced the team just yet, he intended to run Smith and Pocock side by side for a while, before taking Pocock off.

    “It will be an opportunity for me to see what they’re like together for a while, and then maybe relieve David of some duties to get ready for the next couple of tough weeks,” White said.

    “One of the things I’m really mindful of is that David Pocock cannot play 80 minutes of rugby every single week.”

    The Brumbies go into the match as solid favourites, having won their first two games this season and nine of their last 11 games against the Waratahs at home.

    However, White said he remained wary of a Waratahs ambush after coach Michael Cheika talked up his side’s underdogs status at a press conference on Monday.

    “It sounds like an ambush because it is an ambush,” White said.

    “The reality is I’ve never heard of a Waratahs team ever saying they’re coming down to the Brumbies as underdogs.”

    White returned Cheika’s serve with own mind games of his own, questioning the Waratahs new attacking style of rugby.

    “I have no doubt that they tried it, but the irony is that stats don’t lie,” he said.

    “They still haven’t gone away from kicking too much because they kicked 34 times in their last fixture, which is on average to what they did last year.”

    White also played down questions surrounding Israel Folau, instead highlighting Wallaby players Drew Mitchell and Berrick Barnes as players of concern.

    When asked what he thought of Folau as a player, White said it was unfair to make any assessments after just a few weeks.

    “The more he plays the better he’ll become,” White said.

    “Look at Wendell Sailor and Lote Tuqiri when they arrived, they also took time to get involved in rugby union.

    “Michael Cheika has made it quite clear that he’s in the plans, he wants to develop him and he’s obviously going to want to keep on the field as long as possible.”

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (58)

    • March 6th 2013 @ 5:04am
      mania said | March 6th 2013 @ 5:04am | ! Report

      wow pocock and smith. nice combo.
      izzy vs mogg. this is gonna be a game to watch

    • Roar Guru

      March 6th 2013 @ 8:41am
      Rusty said | March 6th 2013 @ 8:41am | ! Report

      Could be a master stroke or a reurn of the Waugh/Smith disaster

      • March 6th 2013 @ 8:44am
        mania said | March 6th 2013 @ 8:44am | ! Report

        rusty that disaster was more because the had wagh vying against smith. hopefully in this case they’ll have them working together

      • March 6th 2013 @ 9:35am
        The Battered Slav said | March 6th 2013 @ 9:35am | ! Report

        Rusty I think that didn’t work so well because the playing style of Waugh and Smith were incredibly similar (albeit that Smith executed his game a few levels above Waugh).

        Pocock and Smith have two fairly contrasting styles at this stage in George’s career, in that he’s less of an on the ball flanker and more a link player, so their two games should complement each other fairly well.

        I’m looking forward to this one so much. Not too sure why Mania is touting the Izzy v Jesse battle, doesn’t look like it’s going to be much of a contest based on the form displayed by both so far this year.

        I’m more interested to see Moore v TPN, Hooper v Pocock and hopefully Volavola v Mogg if Cheika lets it happen. Also looking forward to seeing Folau v himself, that should be a doozy.

        Those right there are some mouth watering match ups.

        Bring on Saturday and go the Brumbies.

        • March 7th 2013 @ 2:46am
          Hightackle said | March 7th 2013 @ 2:46am | ! Report

          Dagg is considered the worlds best FB and if you are gonna assume that he cant go toe to toe with Mogg (who hasnt even started to achieve test status let alone W15 status) based on 1 game where he played wing then I think thsts a little premature.
          Worlds best vs a guy who is maybe in the mix for a Wallaby jumper and your acting like thats not a contest becuz the best FB in the world isnt up to it? Pffffft.

          • March 7th 2013 @ 3:10pm
            bmwwilliams said | March 7th 2013 @ 3:10pm | ! Report

            You realise Israel Dagg doesn’t play for the Waratahs, right HT?

      • March 6th 2013 @ 10:33am
        Markus said | March 6th 2013 @ 10:33am | ! Report

        The biggest disaster in the Smith/Waugh combination was forcing them to team up with the immovable object that was David Lyons.
        Had they combined with a versatile number 8 who was a viable lineout option, along the lines of Mowen or Higginbotham, then it would have been fine.

        Even a guy as big as Palu would have provided a more balanced combination than Lyons did.

        • March 6th 2013 @ 11:33am
          Jutsie said | March 6th 2013 @ 11:33am | ! Report

          The biggest disaster with the smith/waugh combo is that it meant one of the best blindsides going around rode the pine during the world cup…MELON WAS ROBBED

          • March 6th 2013 @ 12:00pm
            Markus said | March 6th 2013 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

            Don’t get me started, Jutsie. Melon was one of the most underappreciated forwards the Wallabies have ever had. How Matt Cockbain ended up with more tests than him I’ll never know.

            Finegan, Waugh with Smith at number 8 would have made one hell of a combination, especially at the breakdown.
            Opposition packs would be tearing their hair out.

            • Roar Guru

              March 6th 2013 @ 1:07pm
              Jiggles said | March 6th 2013 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

              What are you going on about Markus.

              Finegan started 34 Tests the same number as Cockbain. The only reason why Cockbain got more bench caps is because he was seen as a more versatile player at lock and Blindside and Finegan was also injured for all of 2000, getting zero caps. He would have a lot more than Cockbain if he could stay fit.

              In their prime Finegan was always the starter and Cockbain the lock/blindside reserve, e.g. The 2001 Lions tour.

            • Roar Guru

              March 6th 2013 @ 3:09pm
              Peter Breckenridge said | March 6th 2013 @ 3:09pm | ! Report

              Cost us the 2003 RWC leaving Melon out. I just cry thinking about it…

              • Roar Guru

                March 6th 2013 @ 3:12pm
                Jiggles said | March 6th 2013 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

                No it didnt. What cost us was leaving Roff and Latham on the side line in favour of Sailor and Rogers so JON could justify his RL binge. Going into a RWC final against that forward pack with no long kicking game was one of the most brain dead decisions ever made.

              • March 6th 2013 @ 5:08pm
                rl said | March 6th 2013 @ 5:08pm | ! Report

                totally agree Jiggles. Not that it all comes down to one or two moments, but Sailor let Robinson in for the try, and Rogers failed to find touch in the closing stages. You obviously can never tell, but would Roff or would have made the same errors?

            • March 7th 2013 @ 2:53am
              Hightackle said | March 7th 2013 @ 2:53am | ! Report

              Waugh and Smith didnt work becuz it weakened the lineout and balance of the team under the old rules. Today it would be even worse under the new rules. Imo its debatable if you have 1 specialist fetcher let alone 2 these days. I have no probs with 2 flankers the same but not 2 fetchers. 2 like Nyanga, Ritchie, O’Brien or Robshaw but not 2 like Pocock or Brussow.

          • Roar Guru

            March 6th 2013 @ 1:11pm
            AlBo said | March 6th 2013 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

            Melon. He was a far better 6 than the 8 he found himself in too often. What a legend. What a left footed step. You could pick it on a dime every time yet he’d still get past the most versatile back. I raise a drink to you sir (although he’d probably be 6 ahead of me by the time I drank).

            • March 6th 2013 @ 2:25pm
              Who Needs Melon said | March 6th 2013 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

              *sniff*

            • March 6th 2013 @ 5:10pm
              rl said | March 6th 2013 @ 5:10pm | ! Report

              I saw him getting on the turps during “Camp Caloundra” – never seen a human drink so much!

          • March 11th 2013 @ 7:45am
            Marlins Tragic said | March 11th 2013 @ 7:45am | ! Report

            Agreed.

      • March 6th 2013 @ 2:08pm
        Twickenham said | March 6th 2013 @ 2:08pm | ! Report

        Oh I wish for disasters like beating New Zealand in a World Cup Semi-Final and then beating them again in 2004.

    • March 6th 2013 @ 10:54am
      Blue Blood said | March 6th 2013 @ 10:54am | ! Report

      Curious as to how the Brumbies can fit an expensive player like Smith into their salary cap at the 12th hour? I wish they had to have transparency because this sounds suspect to me.

      Not sure why the ARU persist with the salary cap at all. I assume it was done to try and keep an even playing field across the Australian franchises. But when they cram so many Wallabies into 2 teams with huge ARU top ups that sit outside of the cap, how is that achieving this goal?

      I think Pocock will florish with Smith there. Pocock has spent his career with the support of another 7 on the pitch (Fava and Hodgson), he plays much better when he has that support. I think that that is why he struggles and gets broken at the Wallabies as he hasn’t in the past had this support. Pocock and Hodgson had one of the strongest combinations working in Super rugby and Deans never once played them together. After the RWC fiasco he finally started valuing 7 support and their role. 4 years too late sir but glad you finally got there.

      • March 6th 2013 @ 11:22am
        Markus said | March 6th 2013 @ 11:22am | ! Report

        I can’t imagine there is anything suspect about the signing. With the exception of a small handful of established Wallabies and seasoned campaigners, none of the Brumbies squad would be demanding the big bucks. Not yet anyway.

        I get the impression that Smith is playing more for personal reasons over financial ones, too. In comparison to his Japanese rugby salary he is probably playing for mate’s rates.

        • March 6th 2013 @ 11:26am
          mania said | March 6th 2013 @ 11:26am | ! Report

          agree markus. smith has just gotten the biggest payout in aus history for his stint in japan. he doesnt need the money anymore.

          blue|Blood u sound more worried about the fact that its smith than the actual breach of salary cap. isnt the question of how much folau is making from the ARU and bypassing the tahs salary cap much more prevalent?

          • Roar Guru

            March 6th 2013 @ 3:13pm
            Peter Breckenridge said | March 6th 2013 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

            agree with both Markus and mania, as per the quite from Pocock today:

            ”Having someone like George wanting to come back – obviously not for the money – he wants to be part of the Brumbies again and that’s exciting.”

            George is here for pride and to help the team.

          • March 6th 2013 @ 7:56pm
            Blue Blood said | March 6th 2013 @ 7:56pm | ! Report

            I hope you are right. I just wonder how much of a deal he gave them. Regardless of what you pay the rest of the squad, how many clubs leave even $200k in the spare kitty just incase a player of Smith’s level come along?

            The vast majority of the Brumbies team are not getting ARU top ups so most are on only salary cap sums and 3rd party for resigned players. So I am just curious as to how they fit him under the cap. I think it is a fair query this late in the season.

            And I’m not at all worried about Smith being back. I think it is brilliant for Australian rugby. He is the bench mark 7 in the world to date, bar none IMO. I’m excited to see him playing in Australia again.

            • Roar Guru

              March 6th 2013 @ 10:40pm
              jeznez said | March 6th 2013 @ 10:40pm | ! Report

              BB – it is only a 12 week contract, how much are you guessing per match?

              • March 6th 2013 @ 11:58pm
                Blue Blood said | March 6th 2013 @ 11:58pm | ! Report

                You’d have to think at least $10-$15k a week. So $120k – $180k. A fraction of what he’d get for a full season but far from small fry. That’s still a couple of rookies worth of coin and after the season has started. What management leaves even $100k spare in such a tight salary cap that late? It peaks my interest that’s all

              • Roar Guru

                March 7th 2013 @ 8:42am
                AlBo said | March 7th 2013 @ 8:42am | ! Report

                You’d imagine that they would come close to returning that in ticket sales and publicity. It could just be very good business as well.

            • March 8th 2013 @ 3:21am
              Chivas said | March 8th 2013 @ 3:21am | ! Report

              Benchmark 7 in Australia not the world, but good patriotism

      • March 6th 2013 @ 11:24am
        Shop said | March 6th 2013 @ 11:24am | ! Report

        Agree wholeheartedly about the salary cap. I cannot see any sense to it at all.

        I don’t think there is anything suspicious about Smith though.
        He has always been a Brumbies stalwart and I doubt he’d play anywhere else, even if it was for less $.

      • Columnist

        March 6th 2013 @ 12:15pm
        Brett McKay said | March 6th 2013 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

        I mentioned this last week, Blue Blood, given that Smith is only here until July at this stage, and isn’t likely to feature for the Wallabies, there wouldn’t be any ARU top-up for him. And given he is a short-term replacement for a finge Super Rugby player (Ita Vaea), it wouldn’t be a massive amount of money anyway..

        • March 6th 2013 @ 7:59pm
          Blue Blood said | March 6th 2013 @ 7:59pm | ! Report

          You could well be right Brett. But it’s unlikely he’s doing it for donuts. And he can’t get any 3rd party as he is considered a new signing not retention. The nagging suspicious parts of my mind are still curious.

          • March 6th 2013 @ 10:21pm
            ScrumJunkie said | March 6th 2013 @ 10:21pm | ! Report

            Didn’t Smith just get paid over a million bucks from his Japanese club? I think he’d help the Brumbies make the finals if his salary was one dollar.

            Can’t see a bloke like Folau bending on his salary for love of the team, in any code.

    • March 6th 2013 @ 11:32am
      nickoldschool said | March 6th 2013 @ 11:32am | ! Report

      ““One of the things I’m really mindful of is that David Pocock cannot play 80 minutes of rugby every single week.” why is that, not fit enough?

      Plus we are not asking him to play every week for a year anyway. SR is a short compact season. the Brumbies had a bye last week, they have another one early May, rd 13. Then Pocock will train with the wallabies before the Lions series start. We are just asking him to play two full months of rugby, March and April, till this round 13 break. A professional athlete in his mid twenties like Pocock should be able to play all games if fit.

      • March 6th 2013 @ 11:35am
        Jutsie said | March 6th 2013 @ 11:35am | ! Report

        His just come back from a long injury lay off/knee op, its better to ease him back in than get him to play out 80 min off the bat like the rebels are doing with o’connor.

        • March 6th 2013 @ 12:11pm
          nickoldschool said | March 6th 2013 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

          Fair enough. Thought he was now fully fit but you’re right, no need to take risks if he isn’t at 100% yet. I always picture him as an 80min player, one of the few left among forwards, that’s why I was surprised by White’s comment.

          • March 6th 2013 @ 3:14pm
            Jutsie said | March 6th 2013 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

            I agree he looks like he is capable of playing the full 80 (I think in the reds v brums game the commentators mentioned at the 60 min mark that he looked like he hadnt even raised a sweat yet) but im happy to see white manage his players like this in the early rounds of the year. We dont want a repeat of last years injury toll.

      • Columnist

        March 6th 2013 @ 12:19pm
        Brett McKay said | March 6th 2013 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

        NOS, White is being very deliberately conservative in how he uses Pocock currently, because he knows there may well come a time when he needs the full 80 from him later in the year. I wouldn’t be surprised if he actually rests Pocock from a game completely in the next month/six weeks – Kings in Canberra on April 5 might be the perfect chance, just after they come back from South Africa..

        • March 6th 2013 @ 1:16pm
          Markus said | March 6th 2013 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

          I’d be targetting the Kings, Rebels and Force home games and the Force away game as chances to rest Pocock and give Smith and Faingaa runs.
          That said, the Force away game will probably not be by choice anyway. While Pulver has mentioned the possibility of releasing some of the Wallabies squad during that time, you can almost guarantee Pocock will not be included in that consideration.

        • March 6th 2013 @ 1:28pm
          nickoldschool said | March 6th 2013 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

          I think it’s very considerate of White to preserve him, not only for the Brumbies but also the Wallabies. Do you know if Deans specifically asked White not to rush Pocock with the Lions tour ahead?

          I remember an article I read a while ago showing that Dussautoir and Borthwick played on average 34 games a year, I think it was between 2006-2010, which was ten more than McCaw. That’s why, as a proud northerner, am sometimes a bit defensive when I see SH players Being overly ‘cocooned’. But it’s clearly not the case for Pocock so am happy for him to take as long as he needs. plus I think NH coaches have now realised they were asking too much, hence the bigger rosters in top 14.

          • Columnist

            March 6th 2013 @ 3:01pm
            Brett McKay said | March 6th 2013 @ 3:01pm | ! Report

            NOS, I don’t know for sure if Deans asked White to do this, but White is certainly aware of Pocock’s likely workload this year. Its also a big reason why he’s trying to get miles in his broader squad – there were about a dozen squad players having a run against Tonga A last week, and there will be similar numbers this week against Samoa A, including Pat McCabe..

    • March 6th 2013 @ 11:44am
      jameswm said | March 6th 2013 @ 11:44am | ! Report

      Pocock and Smith have no chance against the might of Dave Dennis and Lopeti Timani. The Tahs backrow will crush them.

      • Roar Guru

        March 6th 2013 @ 11:57am
        Mark Richmond said | March 6th 2013 @ 11:57am | ! Report

        Do I detect a touch of sarcasm there jameswm?? 🙂

      • March 6th 2013 @ 12:02pm
        Markus said | March 6th 2013 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

        And reports are that Pat McCutcheon could make a comeback too. The Brumbies will be quivering in their boots!

        • March 6th 2013 @ 12:39pm
          jameswm said | March 6th 2013 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

          If McCutch comes back it’ll be a complete wipeout. He’s a big, physical, dominating presence and a genuine forward-style ball player.

          • March 6th 2013 @ 12:53pm
            The Battered Slav said | March 6th 2013 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

            Ha!

            delightfully bitter sarcasm, love it james, nice work.

            On the issue of the sparing use of Pocock, I have to disagree with NOS. The Super Rugby season is now a fairly long one, punctuated by the biggest test series on our soil in 12 years.

            I think Jacobus is being very astute in his decision not to run Pocock for 80 mins every week. With Smith there, and Colby able to back up as well, there’s no need to run him into the ground this early on in the piece, particlarly as he is returning from a fairly significant injury.

      • Roar Guru

        March 6th 2013 @ 1:12pm
        AlBo said | March 6th 2013 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

        Careful jameswm. Roarers have been known to bite.

        • March 6th 2013 @ 3:18pm
          jameswm said | March 6th 2013 @ 3:18pm | ! Report

          No decent fishing here today…

    • Roar Guru

      March 6th 2013 @ 1:09pm
      Jiggles said | March 6th 2013 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

      Brumbies by 12. The Tahs are to pudgy and soft at the ruck.

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