No game is worth risking your long-term health over. (Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
No game is worth risking your long-term health over. (Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Pocock putting his neck on the line

DOCTORS have warned Wallabies warhorse David Pocock he risks permanent damage if opposing teams continue to get away with targeting his neck.

Pocock already missed a Test against South Africa this season after having his neck twisted while playing against New Zealand the week before, and months later, he's still in pain.

Australia's best player by a country mile in 2018, winning the John Eales Medal in October aearlier this month, Pocock revealed that his neck is still so tender from the damage that was inflicted on him by the All Blacks that he cancelled his annual summer holiday after marrying his long-time partner Emma Palandri.

"It's still pretty sore to be honest," Pocock said. "I usually go away in December and try and get back to Zimbabwe but decided this year that I wanted to spend time here trying to get my body right for next year.

"I recognise that next year is hopefully my biggest year of rugby and I want to be playing my best rugby so I need to be physically able to do that," he said.

Pocock is looming as Australia's key player at next year's World Cup but the worrying nature of his lingering injury has forced him to think about his long-term future.

 

David Pocock leaves the pitch with a neck injury.
David Pocock leaves the pitch with a neck injury.

"I've got some real concerns with my neck. It's caused me a fair bit of grief, I obviously missed a game against South Africa this year," he said.

"So you're concerned about not being able to play and in the back of your head when you talk to medical professionals, they're trying to remind you about life after rugby.

"So it's something that I'm going to have to really manage and be smart with and I don't even know what that looks like at the moment."

Pocock was repeatedly targeted by opposing teams this year who were desperate to stop him stealing their ball at the breakdown.

New Zealand prop Owen Franks was penalised for a neck roll on Pocock during the second Bledisloe Cup but plenty of others got away with similar tactics, which left the Wallabies fuming that no further action was taken.

Pocock talks to the media after winning The RUPA Medal of Excellence. (Mark Evans/Getty Images)
Pocock talks to the media after winning The RUPA Medal of Excellence. (Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Australia complained to World Rugby and SANZAAR about the treatment being dished out to the Wallaby backrower but both ruling bodies said the current rules were sufficient.

Pocock himself has been reluctant to point the finger at anyone or blame referees for not taking a tougher stance, but he does admit he seems to get hurt more than most.

"It's kind of happening a lot," he said. "I get that there's plenty of action at the breakdown and it's sometimes hard to control what you're doing but personally, you know your neck's pretty sore after games.

"As a player that's not territory you want to venture into. The refs are doing their best job and I've got a huge amount of respect for them."

News Corp Australia


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