Pocock: Tall trees catch the most wind
Wallaby flank David Pocock believes taller players are more likely to being penalised for high tackles under the tight regime at the World Cup.
Yellow cards and possible suspensions for high shots loom as a critical element that all the big teams will want to avoid ahead of next week’s quarterfinals.
Australia and New Zealand both had two players yellow-carded during their most recent wins over tier two opposition.
It prompted All Blacks coach Steve Hansen to suggest that it is nearly impossible to avoid high contact in certain situations when an attacking player is falling or running low to the ground.
Both Australian offenders against Uruguay – lock Adam Coleman and flank Lukhan Salakaia-Loto – stand at around the two-metre mark.
They towered over the opponents they were attempting to tackle, something the comparatively compact Pocock could sympathise with.
“As a short bloke on the field, my target zone’s usually a lot lower than the head and shoulders of some of the guys around here,” he said.
“It’s one of those things but World Rugby was very clear before the tournament about contact to the head.
“All you want is consistency and players to know what is and isn’t ok.”
Concern exists that a big knockout game in Japan could swing on an unfortunate high contact and an overzealous match official.
There is also the uncertainty over what might happen if a defender makes contact with the head of a low-slung player who is driving for the tryline.
Attempting to simply prevent a try could result in a costly card and even a penalty try.
Pocock described that scenario as a “grey area” and had yet to see a defender pinged for such an infraction.
The 31-year-old came off the bench against Uruguay but is considered a strong chance to start in this Friday’s match against Georgia in Shizuoka and potentially take the captaincy from a rested Michael Hooper.
After wins over Fiji and Uruguay and a loss to Wales, Pocock said it was important they poured all their focus this week into finishing pool play in style rather than start planning for the knockout phase, which they still aren’t guaranteed of contesting.
“There’s no point really looking beyond Georgia,” Pocock said.
“You’ve got to put in a good performance, give them the respect they deserve, prepare well and then we’ll see what happens after that.”