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What would happen if Pocock was hit by a bus?

Brett McKay Columnist

By Brett McKay, Brett McKay is a Roar Expert

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    Just make sure David Pocock is on the field. That's pretty straightforward, no? (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

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    You’d rightly be concerned for the bus’s well-being, initially. But looking beyond the literal, just how good is the depth of Australian No. 7s behind the premier openside in the country?

    The public bus test is something that I like to apply from time to time because it forces immediate contemplation of something that you otherwise wouldn’t want to consider.

    I most recently applied it to the spin-bowling ranks within Australian cricket, and the answer there – worryingly – is still no clearer.

    Nevertheless, in New Zealand during the Rugby World Cup late last year, Pocock was hit by the metaphorical bus. The Wallabies, and more specifically the selection and planning of coach Robbie Deans, were left to look a little foolish as a result.

    Happily, Pocock is again fit and firing, and seems to have taken to the Western Force captaincy like a duck to water. And with another Super Rugby competition under way, and with the international season nearing, are Australia’s openside stocks any better?

    Happily, I think they are. Paul Cully did too, about a month ago, but I think things have improved even since then.

    Looking around the five Australian teams, I think it’s now safe to conclude that there is considerably more depth behind Pocock than there was, and even more than when the Rugby World Cupn squad was selected. Ben McCalman shouldn’t have to worry about resuming his unsuccessful understudy role any time soon.

    While the Reds have essentially kept their championship forward pack together, it’s interesting to note what is either the promotion of young Liam Gill, or the drop off of Beau Robinson.

    Robinson is probably still in front of the apprentice for the moment, but there isn’t a lot of difference between the two at the breakdown. If Robinson is still in front, it can’t be by much now. Gill has really come along after gaining experience off the bench last year, though is still prone to the odd brain explosion infringement that youth creates.

    That said, Robinson has been off the mark so far this year, perhaps a barometer for how the Reds are going in general. If he has any designs on adding to his sole Wallaby appearance, he has to reclaim both the No. 7 jersey and his 2011 form within the next month.

    Apart from once-warm pies, the Canberra Stadium media box is perched directly above the commentary and coaches boxes, and it was from this perfectly elevated vantage point that I paid close attention to young Brumby Michael Hooper last weekend.

    Hooper won all the plaudits and platitudes for his demolition job on the Highlanders a few weeks back, and there’s no question his star is rising rapidly.

    What was noticeable about Hooper was the way he operates within the middle thirty or so metres of the field, and particularly how well he picks his times to attack the breakdown. It’s probably not that much different to how Pocock operates, though I don’t recall Pocock having the same patience at the same age.

    That’s not to say that Hooper is destined to better Pocock, just that he clearly has a wise head on young shoulders. 2012 might be a bit soon for higher honours, but I’m quite certain Hooper will play for Australia sooner rather than later.

    Pat McCutcheon started the season as the Waratahs’ preferred openside, but his horrible ankle break in Dunedin has opened the door for Chris Alcock to continue where he left off in 2011.

    Alcock plays with a different level of physicality to McCutcheon, and it was for this reason that many a Roarer suggested he should’ve been wearing the New South Wales No. 7 from the outset in 2012. You could say that Alcock has the size to play the game that Phil Waugh always tried to.

    Down in Melbourne, it was interesting to see young Tom Chamberlain had been keeping England international Michael Lipman on the bench up until this week, especially when the Rebel’s own profiles list Chamberlain as a blindside.

    And it’s obvious that he is a blindsider, because he doesn’t play that natural ‘fetcher’ role even as well as Jarrod Saffy does. This in itself is interesting, too, because I do wonder if the thought has been given to playing Saffy at openside.

    Though Saffy and Chamberlain’s dimensions are essentially the same, Saffy looks to be the more natural openside build. Chamberlain’s impressive tackling stats wouldn’t be lost at blindside either way. If someone from the Army could arrange that for me, that’d be grouse, as you guys put it.

    This brings me back to Perth, where I’ve had similar thoughts about Pocock and Matt Hodgson. Like the two Rebels, Hodgson and Pocock share similar height and weight proportions, though to see them in the flesh you would swear Hodgson was the smaller, openside build. There’s no other way of saying it, Pocock’s bloody enormous now.

    I think the Force have got it right this season, though, playing Hodgson at No. 8 in McCalman’s absence, because it’s essentially allowed Hodgson to play as a second opensider, with Richard Brown and Angus Cottrell both playing well so far on the blind.

    It shouldn’t really make much difference from playing at blindside, but Hodgson seems to be relishing the extra freedom to roam at the breakdown and in attack from No. 8, and indeed, scored one of the tries of the year last weekend against the Reds.

    The depth behind Pocock might be a bit stronger now, and I’ll be keeping an eye on how Hooper and Gill progress over the rest of the Super Rugby season, but Hodgson still looks to be heading the queue behind his Western Force skipper at the moment.

    We still don’t need Pocock to go near public buses, of course, but at least if the worst-case scenario returns, we’re a lot better equipped than we were not too long ago.

    Brett McKay
    Brett McKay

    Brett McKay is one of The Roar's good news stories and has been a rugby and cricket expert for the site since July 2009. Brett is an international and Super Rugby commentator for ABC Grandstand radio, has commentated on the Australian Under-20s Championships and National Rugby Championship live stream coverage, and has written for magazines and websites in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK. He tweets from @BMcSport.

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    The Crowd Says (92)

    • Columnist

      April 5th 2012 @ 1:30am
      Paul Cully said | April 5th 2012 @ 1:30am | ! Report

      In answer to your original question Brett, I think Warren Gatland would immediately be charged and face a lengthy spell in the Big House.

      • Columnist

        April 5th 2012 @ 8:38am
        Brett McKay said | April 5th 2012 @ 8:38am | ! Report

        HA!! 😆 ..I’d be checking the rego papers too, in case one ‘S.Warburton’ appears…

        • April 5th 2012 @ 11:37am
          Ben S said | April 5th 2012 @ 11:37am | ! Report

          Nah, Sam doesn’t sweat the small stuff, Brett. :-0

    • April 5th 2012 @ 1:38am
      James D said | April 5th 2012 @ 1:38am | ! Report

      What would happen if Pocock got hit by a bus? Well the bus would need extensive repairs.

    • April 5th 2012 @ 1:41am
      Johnno said | April 5th 2012 @ 1:41am | ! Report

      Matt hodgson who seems to be the 2nd no 7. ANd on the subject of Hodgson. Why has his stocks suddenly risen again so highly this year, after the public cast him as the no3 option and seemed outraged that Hodgson was sent to the world cup in the end as cover for pock rather than Beau Robinson.

      The hype of Beau robinson has really died down with the reds form down this year.
      waratahs have a few no 7’s i don’t even know there names one broke his ankle vs the highlanders at the indoor stadium in Dunedien
      and micheal lipman is aussie who played for england so not eligible for wallaby selection
      Jarryd saffy was a player i really liked last year hasn’t been as dominant but there is something about him i really like it is his workrate which i like and his no nonsense approach like george smith he just get’s stuck in., and was a good league player.

      And don’t laugh there is always george smith in Japan he is 31 still playing good rugby. if he is managed could still be useful.

      I thought george smith was cast aside to early at 29 he still had more too offer would of been handy back up in the world cup.

      Ben mcelman no way , was a failure experiment if ever there was one for no 7 at last years world cup.

      i think someone like the rugby league player Anthony watmough would be an awesome no 7 by the way has the right build and same with mick crocker too would be good no 7. Dallas johnson would handy no 7 to if he switched over, .

      • April 5th 2012 @ 7:55am
        Riccardo said | April 5th 2012 @ 7:55am | ! Report

        Hey Johnno.

        “I thought george smith was cast aside to early at 29 he still had more too offer would of been handy back up in the world cup.”

        I too was surprised by this. As a Kiwi and a fantical AB supporter he was one of the special guys to be feared and while he may not have been the dynamo he was still a smart and able replacement, especially in the cauldron of a WC.

        Deans missed a trick there IMO.

        • April 5th 2012 @ 8:05am
          kingplaymaker said | April 5th 2012 @ 8:05am | ! Report

          Riccardo whether it was right to let Smith go or not, it was his decision to go and both Deans and the ARU lobbied very hard to keep him. If anyone’s guilty it would have been the ARU for not keeping him as they paid the wages.

        • April 5th 2012 @ 8:11am
          mania said | April 5th 2012 @ 8:11am | ! Report

          i agree riccardo. gSmith will go down in history as one of the great AB’s honoured enemies. finnegan described george as “the fat kid”. apparently george was useless at training and suprisingly fitness. george had a very low beep test score, yet get him on the field and he ran all day. this is an example of brains vs brawn. george was a super smart player.
          yeah deans should’ve kept george there as backup and ARU should have refused to release him until post the WC

      • Columnist

        April 5th 2012 @ 8:39am
        Brett McKay said | April 5th 2012 @ 8:39am | ! Report

        “waratahs have a few no 7′s i don’t even know there names one broke his ankle vs the highlanders..”

        You’re right Johnno, I should’ve made mention of their names and this injury in the article. Wait, hang on a minute….

        And George Smith wasn’t cast aside anyway, he sought and was granted a release to leave Australia a year earlier than planned (and contracted).

        • April 5th 2012 @ 11:13am
          Justin said | April 5th 2012 @ 11:13am | ! Report

          True Brett but was he pushed out. It was obvious Pocock was hailed by Deans as numero uno and that George wouldnt really get a look in…

          • April 5th 2012 @ 2:12pm
            faitala.lima said | April 5th 2012 @ 2:12pm | ! Report

            pocock simply outstaged george smith towards the end of smiths super rugby career. i dont think he wouldve been able to keep up wit super rugby at 31. he stands out in the northern hemisphere because the standard up there isnt quite as high as the southern hemisphere..

    • April 5th 2012 @ 1:43am
      BlackWave said | April 5th 2012 @ 1:43am | ! Report

      David Pocock would be dead. But his biceps would still be alive though.

      • Roar Guru

        April 5th 2012 @ 6:12am
        Who Needs Melon said | April 5th 2012 @ 6:12am | ! Report

        Could I have them?

        I’d have them surgically attached… somewhere.

      • April 5th 2012 @ 6:31am
        p.Tah said | April 5th 2012 @ 6:31am | ! Report

        We’d then have a new open side and a new blindside flanker.

        • Columnist

          April 5th 2012 @ 8:41am
          Brett McKay said | April 5th 2012 @ 8:41am | ! Report

          problem solved right there, PT…

    • April 5th 2012 @ 2:24am
      bluerose said | April 5th 2012 @ 2:24am | ! Report

      lets hope and pray that your outrageous question doesnt come true………

    • April 5th 2012 @ 2:29am
      sportym said | April 5th 2012 @ 2:29am | ! Report

      Non issue: Brad Thorn has retired.

      • Roar Guru

        April 5th 2012 @ 4:35am
        Poth Ale said | April 5th 2012 @ 4:35am | ! Report

        Retired?

        Brad Thorn is gearing up to do the double with Leinster to go with his still shiny RWC medal.

        • April 5th 2012 @ 8:30pm
          sportym said | April 5th 2012 @ 8:30pm | ! Report

          Yup!

          Retired from turning Wallabies into Road Kill!

      • April 5th 2012 @ 2:13pm
        faitala.lima said | April 5th 2012 @ 2:13pm | ! Report

        now brad thorn woulda definitely hospitalized the bus …

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