Rugby: Pocock injury adds to Wallabies' pain

David Pocock, Wallabies captain. Photo / Getty Images
David Pocock, Wallabies captain. Photo / Getty Images

A knee injury threatening to keep Wallabies captain David Pocock out of at least next week's Bledisloe Cup must-win match in Auckland is another headache for coach Robbie Deans as he contemplates changes to his misfiring side.

Pocock injured the articular cartilage in his right knee in the first half of Saturday's 27-19 loss to New Zealand in the Rugby Championship opener in Sydney, and will consult a surgeon today to determine the course of rehabilitation.

Wallabies officials didn't want to speculate on how long Pocock might be sidelined, other than to confirm he was battling to be fit for the Eden Park encounter.

If Pocock is ruled out, halfback Will Genia will lead the side.

Michael Hooper, who was an unused substitute in Saturday night's match but made his first three test appearances off the bench in June, would probably have the edge to take over at No7.

The squad's other openside specialist, the uncapped Liam Gill, will come into calculations while Deans may consider other changes to add spark to his backline, Quade Cooper possibly re-entering the equation.

Asked if Cooper was in contention for a recall, Deans said: "Obviously he'll be considered, yeah."

Should he opt for two playmakers, Deans could move both five-eighths Berrick Barnes and second five-eighths Anthony Faingaa one position out, with centre Rob Horne potentially dropping out.

A typically laconic Deans emphasised that Australia's record of 26 years since their last win at Eden Park was not a hot topic of conversation among the Wallabies.

"It's not something we sit around the breakfast table conversing about," Deans said.

Winger Digby Ioane was excited rather than intimidated by the Wallabies' recent record in Auckland.

"It gives us motivation, because it's history there."

Ioane described New Zealand's defence in Sydney as awesome.

"They shut us down pretty good ... you can tell they were doing a lot of rushed defence, but we can learn off that," Ioane said.

Deans described the Australian lineout as spot-on and the scrum as solid. "A couple of calls went against us, and there was one scrum just after a blood bin where we had a change and we lacked concentration and we suffered, but beyond that [the scrums] were good."

Veteran lock and lineout ace Nathan Sharpe pinpointed one area of potential improvement. "I thought we probably could have put a bit more pressure on their lineout, we were a bit slow in that area.

"To beat the quality teams around the world, you've got to be humming, we weren't humming last night," Sharpe said.

"We made too many unforced errors and then on the back of that we played too much football in our half."

No8 Ben McCalman, who did not make Saturday's 22-man squad, has undergone surgery for a fractured radius in his forearm and is expected to be out for three months.

A member of last year's World Cup squad who played openside during that tournament when Pocock was injured, McCalman had returned only recently from a shoulder problem that had sidelined him for some time.

- AAP

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