Pocock's message to fringe Wallabies
David Pocock had a message for any Australian teammate whose mind might be drifting to typhoons or quarterfinals rather than the Rugby World Cup task at hand.
“Someone might get the opportunity to play in a Wallabies jumper and stay there.”
It was one line but said plenty on the eve of their final pool match against Georgia in Shizuoka.
After failing to hit their straps through the first three weeks in Japan, Pocock is desperate for the Wallabies to produce a performance of substance a week out from their likely knockout clash with England.
The veteran flank believes coach Michael Cheika has done the right thing by promoting competition for places, with several positions still up for grabs next week.
Pocock himself finds himself in a fight to join rested skipper Michael Hooper in next week’s starting back row.
It means he, Isi Naisarani and Jack Dempsey will be comrades and rivals when they run out together on Friday, battling for two available spots against the powerhouse English pack.
“There’s no lack of competition. As players you just see it as an opportunity,” Pocock said.
“It’s something we’re going to need over the next few weeks.”
Another key voice this week has been forwards coach Simon Raiwalui, who has coached at three leading French clubs and noted the number of Georgia players standing out at that level.
The big Eastern Europeans will provide the ideal litmus Test of an Australian tight five which has been among the most impressive of the tournament.
“I understand what Georgia is about. They love the scrum, they love the maul so we’re looking forward to that challenge.
“For us, I think some of the best competitions we’ve had have been inter competitions. So we compete for those positions to make ourselves better.”
Georgia can climb to third in the pool and automatically qualify for the next World Cup if they can topple Australia in the inaugural meeting of the two nations.
Motivation isn’t in short supply elsewhere.
It is the last game in charge for eight-season coach Milton Haig, the Kiwi having overseen a broadening of how The Lelos play the game as they’ve dominated the second-tier European international championship for the last decade.
Also exiting is Georgia’s finest ever player, flank Mamuka Gorgodze, ending his Test career aged 35.
He said he will set out to simply enjoy his 75th and final appearance.
“I am already used to the feeling now, it’s been two years that I have evacuated all these emotions the last time I retired,” he said.
“So for me, it is not going to be particularly emotional. I don’t feel any pressure or sadness.”