The All Blacks say they are on high alert for David Pocock’s influence around the breakdown ahead of Bledisloe I.
The All Blacks say they are on high alert for David Pocock’s influence around the breakdown ahead of Bledisloe I.

All Blacks target Pocock threat

THE All Blacks have gone a year without having to worry about David Pocock but they're on high alert for the return of the Wallabies back-row menace in the Bledisloe Cup.

The Brumbies star wasn't part of the 2017 series as he was on a sabbatical.

He returned to the Australian side for the June home series against Ireland and will line up against New Zealand in Sydney on Saturday.

During the Ireland series and his time in Super Rugby this season, Pocock proved he hadn't lost any of the pilfering prowess that makes him such a pest and threat to opposing sides.

"He's a great scavenger of the ball," All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said.

"He's somebody that we'll have to be aware of at the breakdown.

"If we're not he'll come in and pinch the ball, so that would be painful."

David Pocock was back to his best in the series against Ireland.
David Pocock was back to his best in the series against Ireland.

One of Pocock's breakdown adversaries, All Blacks flanker Sam Cane, is also acutely aware of the danger posed by the powerful Wallaby.

"The way he continually bounces back and plays at such a high level is pretty outstanding," Cane said.

"It just creates an awareness. We're on more high alert than normal around the breakdown."

The respect is mutual, with Pocock holding the All Blacks back row in high regard.

"They are pretty handy. They've got a great balance between really strong ball carriers and on-ball," he said.

Pocock watched at least two of the 2017 Bledisloe games while he was in Japan.

"(New Zealand) are the number one team in the world for a reason. They know how to close out games and how to win the close ones and that's a great challenge for us this weekend," Pocock said.

Halfback Will Genia said Pocock brought a lot to the Wallabies group in terms of playing ability and leadership.

"You saw at the World Cup in 2015 he was one of the best players on the planet, so he brings what he brings in terms of his ability as a player as well as driving standards off the field," Genia said.



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