Sam Warburton’s Comments Once Again Come To Mind Following Fears For David Pocock

Jason Hennessy

Jason Hennessy

Jason is the editor here at RugbyLAD and a proud Limerick man.
Jason Hennessy

More protection.

Wallabies flanker David Pocock has been ruled out of tomorrow’s Rugby Championship clash with South Africa after failing to recover from a neck problem.

The Brumbies star has been struggling with his neck all season, with fears now growing for his longevity in the game. Pocock was seen holding his neck throughout Bledisloe II, following an illegal neck roll from All Blacks prop Owens Franks, that surprisingly went unpunished.

After the game Pocock admitted his neck problem has been ongoing, while also questioning the protection afforded to him by referees.

“You feel it after games and it’s not something you probably want to think too much about,” Pocock said.

“It’ll be sore but hopefully it’s nothing serious.

“It’s something the refs had said they were going to really sort of look at.”

Pocock’s neck issues can presumably be directly linked with him being one of the best breakdown specialists in the world. His ability to poach the ball is unrivalled, but the repercussions once again raise an issue that former Lions captain Sam Warburton brought to the fore last week.

Warburton has called for more protection for the ‘jackaller’ following his sudden retirement from the game at just 29.

“You have to look at the clean-outs. You need to protect the jackalers. Maybe say something like the opposition team cannot commit more than two players in a ruck.” Warburton said.

Ireland’s Sean O’Brien – another world class flanker who prides himself on getting over the ball, has also called for more protection.

“I always say at the breakdown some referees, they let you get . . .you could be in a poach position, and you’ll take one big hit or someone will smash you and you still survive it.” O’Brien said.

“And you take another one and you’ll survive it and there’s still no whistle gone. And it’s the third lad that does the damage to you. That’s where you’re getting so much punishment – three massive free shots and there’s still no penalty.”

That’s three of the best breakdown specialists the game has ever seen calling for more protection for the defensive player when he gets in a position to poach the ball. Will World Rugby listen? Do we need a law change or is the onus on the referees to protect the player?

Pocock meanwhile has been replaced in the Wallabies’ starting line-up by Pete Samu, who will make his first start for Australia.