Time is running out for Pocock and O'Connor
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Time is running out for David Pocock and James O’Connor prior to the Wallabies’ first Test of a World Cup year, but scrumhalf Nic White is back with the group.
Champion loose forward Pocock has played just 138 minutes in three matches for the Brumbies this season due to a calf muscle issue and hasn’t taken the field since early March.
The 31-year-old, who was one of the stars of the 2015 World Cup, announced his retirement from Super Rugby in late May
He is attending coach Michael Cheika’s national camp in Brisbane this week but did not train on Monday.
A squad for the opening Rugby Championship game against South Africa in Johannesburg on July 20 will be announced on Wednesday or Thursday
Utility back O’Connor, who turns 29 on Friday, can’t train with the squad until inking a deal with Rugby Australia, with Queensland expected to be his Super Rugby destination.
A veteran of 44 Tests, O’Connor became the second-youngest Wallaby when he made his Test debut as an 18-year-old against Italy in 2008 but hasn’t played for Australia since September 2013.
Off-field disciplinary issues put him on the outer with the Wallabies management and he has plied his trade overseas with London Irish, Toulon and Sale.
The former Force and Rebels star briefly returned to Australia in 2015 for a stint with the Reds, but didn’t make the Wallabies’ squad for that year’s World Cup.
Former Brumby White, who played 22 Tests between 2013 and 2015, making eight starts, is in camp this week after agreeing a deal with RA.
— Qantas Wallabies (@qantaswallabies) July 1, 2019
Since 2015, the 29-year-old White has played for Montpellier in France and English club Sale, to who he is contracted for one more season, before returning to play Super Rugby at a franchise to be determined.
“It’s great to see Nic back,” said 1999 World Cup winning captain and scrumhalf George Gregan, who on Monday worked with the playmakers in the camp.
“Obviously playing overseas in France and the UK was very good for him in terms of rounding off his entire rugby game.
“I did some work with him when he was starting at the Brumbies many years ago. He’s come back a really rounded player.”
White faces plenty of competition for a halfback spot from regular starter Will Genia, Nick Phipps, Joe Powell and Jake Gordon.
“There’s been good examples of depth in a number of positions in this country and I think No.9 is at the moment is definitely that case,” Gregan said.
The Brumbies are in transit following last weekend’s Super Rugby semifinal loss in Argentina and won’t return to Australia until Tuesday.
The need for rest after playing and travelling means none are expected to actively participate in the camp prior to the Wallabies departure for South Africa next Sunday.