Pocock’s eye injury forces Cheika into rethink
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is undecided who will replace David Pocock after the star back-rower was ruled out of the rest of the Test series with England with a fractured eye socket.
Scans yesterday revealed the extent of the injury, with the Brumbies forward set to miss at least six weeks.
He suffered the knock when clearing out a ruck late in Australia’s 39-28 defeat by England in Brisbane.
Cheika said he had several options for Saturday’s second Test in Melbourne.
He could go for a traditional No.8 in the form of veteran Wycliff Palu or Ben McCalman, or opt to stay with the two openside flanker system employed at Suncorp Stadium, with Sean McMahon or Liam Gill coming into the team.
“There’s options there that have experience in the frontline,” Cheika told reporters at Brisbane airport before flying to Melbourne.
“We’re fortunate there, but at the same time disappointed to lose a player of David’s quality, the skills he brings to the game and that dynamic we have in the back row with himself, Michael (Hooper) and Scott (Fardy).
“We’ll probably create a different type of complementary nature now, or we could go like-for-like. Once we have a look at the game again today as coaches, we’ll see what we want to go with and how we might want to play the game next Saturday.”
Cheika also has injury worries over second-rower Rob Simmons, who limped off with a back problem on Saturday night and winger Rob Horne, who will have to undergo a concussion test.
The Wallabies coach said Simmons had recovered somewhat and would travel for Saturday’s game at AAMI Park, but added if he did not improve there was plenty of cover.
“We’ve obviously got a few locks here,” he said. “I’ve carried a couple extra because I’m keen to broaden the experience of the squad this series and that will be an opportunity if Rob doesn’t recover.”
Meanwhile, England coach Eddie Jones said his players could not afford to let up in the second Test in Melbourne or in the final game in Sydney a week later.
“We can’t afford to get too excited,” said the former Wallabies mentor. “I think it’s making sure we have good focus.
“The Australians are going to come at us left, right and centre.”
Jones also defended his Bodyline analogy before the first Test to describe how England would target Australia’s best players just as the tourists did in the infamous 1932-33 Ashes cricket tour to undermine Don Bradman.
“Bodyline was just a figure of speech,” he said. “It was just about doing something different.
“You’ve got to remember England have been coming here since Captain Cook and only won three Tests. So if we kept thinking and doing things the same as those other teams we would get the same results, so I wanted to create a different form of thinking.”