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David Pocock insists the Wallabies’ under-fire pack will cope with the back-row physicality of Wales at the Principality Stadium on Saturday.
After another struggle in the line-out against the All Blacks in Yokohama two weeks ago, questions have been raised about whether more size is required in the back-row.
Pocock, who has been playing as a No.8 and skipper Mike Hooper are regarded as two of the finest flankers in the world game.
With Hooper standing at 1.82cm and Pocock at 1.84, Ned Hanigan is the only member of the back-row trio that offers some size at 1.94.
Once again on Saturday they will be dwarfed by their Welsh counterparts with the outstanding blindside Dan Lydiate an imposing 1.93 with Justin Tupiric and No.8 Ross Moriarty measuring 1.88.
Inexperience at hooker in the form of Folau Fainga’a, Tolu Latu and Brandon Paenga-Amosa hasn’t helped the team’s cause of late but Pocock believes a lack of size should not be seen as an issue.
“I love playing alongside Hoops, but that is up to the coaches and what they think is going to be best for us as a team,” Pocock said.
“I will stay out of that one. But I really rate Mike as a captain, as a person and as a player and love playing alongside him.
“We have worked hard and trying to get this combination working as best as we can.
“I think we are pretty handy jumpers but I guess that is always going to be talked about.
“That’s up to the coaches and the profile they are looking for.
“What they think are benefits are opposed to the cost of having two shorter players in the back-row.”
Fainga’a is facing competition to keep his starting spot in the team from returning veteran Tatafu Polota-Nau, available again after club commitments with English side Leicester.
The 23-year-old has enjoyed a superb rookie season for the Brumbies, making his international debut and winning the Super Rugby side’s outstanding young talent award.
Fainga’a said the difficulties of the Wallabies at set-pieces are not just down to a lack of a fourth option jumper, but due to some inconsistent throwing.
“It’s really up to us hookers to own it,” he said.
“It doesn’t make a difference. He (Pocock) has strong lifters behind and around him.
“He gets up to the same height you get from your Rory Arnolds and those kind of players.
“It’s all about where you hit the target and making sure you do.”
Pocock has seen the progress of Fainga’a at close quarters at the Brumbies and has tipped the youngster to be around the international set-up for many years.
“It’s been a massive year for him,” he said.
“I’m very impressed with his growth and form for the Brumbies this season.
“He is showing how much he wants to learn and the young hookers we have coming through are going to be around for a long time.”
The quietly-spoken Fainga’a said playing to impress his 94-year-old great-grandmother Palolo has been his biggest motivation this season.
“When I am on the television she gets very emotional every time she watches me,” he said.
“Every time I call home she doesn’t stop crying.Whenever I Facetime her she does the same thing.
“Having my mum, grandmother and great grandmother there together is pretty cool.”