David Pocock passes fitness test as Wallabies ponder team to face All Blacks
Wallabies star David Pocock is set to be unleashed on the All Blacks after passing a fitness test and says he cannot wait for the chance to break a 30-year drought against New Zealand at Eden Park.
Pocock has made a speedy recovery following hand surgery shortly after the Wallabies' win over the Pumas in Perth.
He had to get through a training session at Leichhardt Oval on Tuesday to make himself available for selection.
While Pocock says he does not feel any pain in his hand, there is a chance he will start on the bench with incumbent No 8 Lopeti Timani to retain his spot at the back of the scrum.
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Wallabies coach Michael Cheika will name his team on Thursday to face the All Blacks and it would make sense not to risk Pocock given the match is a dead-rubber.
"It's been great to get back into camp," Pocock said.
"It's feeling pretty good. I've done all the rehab that's been required. The last little bit is the uncontrolled contact, we'll see how that goes.
"You can't really control some of the injuries I've had this year with the broken cheekbone and the broken hand. They're just contact injuries, so to miss out to them has been disappointing but it's all just part of it."
Fellow back-rower Sean McMahon is a "long shot" to return from an ankle injury for the clash but would not rule anything out despite not participating in training on Tuesday.
"I had a little bit of a trot yesterday [Monday] to see how it's feeling. It's feeling good," McMahon said.
"I'll keep working on my ankle and see how it goes over the week."
Pocock posted a picture to Instagram last month of the gruesome cut on his hand.
The 28-year-old also paid tribute to Australian Paralympian Kurt Fearnley in the post and reiterated on Tuesday why he looked up to him.
"It was quite polarising," said Pocock of the picture.
"Some people loved it, other people they hit the moderate button. It's the reality of professional rugby. Injuries are a big part of it and it's certainly not all plain sailing and there is that part as well that definitely takes a toll on the body.
"He [Fearnley] is one of the great Australian athletes. He's such an inspirational figure and certainly watching him in the media and reading his book when it came out while I was injured with my knee, I certainly took a lot from that. His words ring pretty true that it's often the hard days you remember and are most proud of."
Pocock has lost all four matches he has played against the All Blacks at Eden Park and is aware of the history that beckons should the Wallabies get over the line on Saturday night.
The Wallabies are relishing the chance of breaking a hoodoo that stretches back to 1986 against the All Blacks, who are chasing a world record 18th consecutive victory.
"It's been a long time between wins there for the Wallabies and a number of teams," Pocock said.
"It's a big challenge but that's exciting in sport. They're the No 1 team in the world at a place where they haven't lost for a very long time so we'll see how we go."
Many pundits thought the All Blacks would suffer a post-World Cup lull after losing a number of star players, but their 2016 form has been nothing short of spectacular.
Thumping victories against the Wallabies in Sydney and Wellington has raised concerns the gap between the sides has widened, but Pocock said a lot had changed since August when the teams last locked horns.
"We certainly haven't achieved what we set out to but I think we've learnt a lot as a squad and we get a last crack at it before we head off on the spring tour," Pocock said.
"There is plenty to take out of the last couple of months.
"Their form would suggest they haven't taken a step back and that's one of the hallmarks of New Zealand rugby is their depth."
- Sydney Morning Herald