Rugby: Richie who? Deans hails Pocock as best ever

David Pocock has been hailed a "freak" by Wallabies coach Robbie Deans. Photo / Getty Images
David Pocock has been hailed a "freak" by Wallabies coach Robbie Deans. Photo / Getty Images

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has hailed "freak" David Pocock as the best ruck warrior he's seen and also reserved special praise for his captaincy to help redeem the Wallabies.

Not even All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw, who Deans coached for eight years at the Crusaders, ranks above Pocock as a ball-scavenger in the New Zealander's eyes after Pocock dominated the crucial breakdown contest in Saturday night's 27-19 first Test win over Wales.

Australia's display was in stark contrast to Tuesday night's humiliating 9-6 loss to Scotland and it was at the tackle area where they set up the three-tries-to-one victory at Suncorp Stadium.

While halfback Will Genia was a deserved man-of-the-match, Deans marvelled at Pocock's strength and ability to attack the ball under heavy opposition at the breakdown.

Asked whether he'd ever seen anyone as effective, Deans said: "No, no, absolutely not.

"He is a physical freak. He has such a low centre of gravity, he's got such strength and he's quick and he's smart.

"So he gets into good position and he claims good position. He's nigh impossible to move and he gets the benefit of that."

What was just as impressive for Deans was his new captain's leadership after being thrown into the role a week before the poorly-scheduled Scotland Test due to incumbent James Horwill's hamstring injury.

"It was a baptism of fire," Deans said, admitting it could have torched a lesser man.

"It didn't. He got better. He got stronger.

"He's really grown from a leadership perspective, just from stuff that he's had at the Western Force. You can see he's calmer, he's clearer."

It was one of four victories by southern hemisphere nations over northern rivals on a good weekend for Rugby Championship sides at home to Six Nations outfits.

McCaw's All Blacks thumped Ireland 42-10, South Africa outmuscled England 22-17 and Argentina overran Italy 37-22.

From the outset in Brisbane, the Wallabies showed more speed and intensity to recycle quick ball and also stifle and steal that of a Welsh outfit desperate to end a 43-year drought Down Under.

Wales skipper and Pocock's No.7 rival Sam Warburton admitted it was the fastest first-half he'd ever played and acknowledged the Red Dragons need to do more to nullify the Australian back-row.

The Six Nations champions suffered for a lack of match practice but their second-half fightback, from 20-6 down to be a point behind with 17 minutes left, has the Wallabies aware they'll be tougher in the second Test in Melbourne.

"If anything we've awoken a beast," said rising flanker Michael Hooper, who came off the bench to make a significant impact in tandem with Pocock.

"I've got no doubt they'll be firing this week."

The Wallabies have prop Sekope Kepu in doubt with a hand injury which could open the door for Brumbies tight-head Dan Palmer to start at Etihad Stadium following his impressive debut against the Scots.

- AAP

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