BRISBANE, Australia (AFP) –
The Wallabies expect star flanker David Pocock to be available for next month’s European tour, coach Robbie Deans said. after a battling 18-18 weekend draw against the All Blacks.
Deans said he thought Pocock, sidelined for two months following knee surgery, would return on the four-Test tour although added he would not regain the captaincy from senior lock Nathan Sharpe.
Although Sharpe was Australia’s fourth-choice skipper this season, Deans confirmed the 34-year-old second-rower would keep the captaincy following his inspirational leadership in the past four Tests.
“Sharpie has been fantastic as a leader,” Deans told reporters.
“He’s brought a lot of composure to the group and brought us back on task for what is important at any given moment.
“He’s also developing the people around him.”
Pocock’s availability is a major boost for the inexperienced and injury-ravaged Wallabies, who showed great character to hold the World Cup champions to a draw in Brisbane on Saturday.
The Wallabies may also have experienced pair, hooker Stephen Moore (hamstring) and utility back Berrick Barnes (punctured lung), back for the November internationals.
The Australians have played much of the international season without injured stars, Will Genia, Quade Cooper, James O’Connor, James Horwill, Pocock and Moore, while winger Digby Ioane (knee), prop Ben Alexander (wrist) and backup hooker Saia Faingaa missed Saturday’s Brisbane Test.
“First and foremost we have to recharge the players’ batteries, it’s been a big month, lot of travel, so we get 10 days essentially and we’ve got four Test matches coming,” Deans said ahead of the international against France in Paris on November 10.
“The next four games are important to us. They all contribute to rankings and the seedings for the next World Cup (2015) happen in December.
“We want to take forward some of the elements of Saturday’s Test and we’ll push on.”
Deans said he expected to announce a 30-man squad late this week for the European tour with other internationals against England (November 17), Italy (November 24) and Wales (December 1).
“If the boys turn up like they did last night it will be a good tour,” Deans said.