Pocock, Smith to team up against Waratahs

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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.”

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