TIMELY RETURN: David Pocock of the Brumbies is set to play against the Highlanders this weekend.
TIMELY RETURN: David Pocock of the Brumbies is set to play against the Highlanders this weekend. TRACEY NEARMY

Pocock set to boost Brumbies in quarter-final

RUGBY: The Brumbies are rejoicing at the return of superstar flanker David Pocock for Friday night’s Super Rugby quarter-final against the Highlanders in Canberra.

And they will need every bit of his skill and physicality against the defending champions, even though he might be a little rusty.

The Wallabies veteran has not played since fracturing his eye socket against England six weeks ago.

“He (Pocock) has trained well the last couple of weeks and got through some contact work,” Brumbies assistant coach Dan McKellar said.

“He certainly adds a lot with his ability at the defensive breakdown and being able to turn over the football regularly.

“So it’ll be nice to have him back.”

The Highlanders did, however, find a way to limit Pocock’s influence the last time the teams met in Invercargill in round 10, when the Otago-based outfit won 23-10.

It was also his first game back from a two-match suspension.

“I’m sure they’ll be focusing on him heavily, as you would,” Brumbies inside centre Matt Toomua said.

“But that can provide opportunities for other guys.

“We’ve got more guys than just Dave, but in saying that, to have him back in such a great game is always a good thing.”

While the Highlanders are strong up front, their backline – featuring All Blacks Aaron Smith, Ben Smith, Lima Sopoaga and Malakai Fekitoa – is highly dangerous.

So when the Brumbies’ kickers – including Toomua – kick for touch, they will do so with purpose.

“Aim for row seven we’ve got written on our arms, because they’re very good at counter-attacking,” Toomua said.

“Against all Kiwi teams you don’t want to put it just out, you want to force them into a set piece because one-on-one that’s where they’re strong.”

JOSH SPASARO


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