David Pocock in action for the Force. Picture: Faith Moran Source: The Daily Telegraph
STAR flanker David Pocock has quit Perth to join the Brumbies in Canberra, leaving the Western Force and their shell-shocked fans without either a captain or a coach following a disastrous Super 15 season.
Pocock has told The Sunday Times why he has followed another Wallaby star, James O’Connor, out the door.
“Being based on the east coast will bring me closer to my family, who I’ve not seen as much of as I’d have liked, due to the combined factors of being located in Perth, and the heavy year-long rugby dhschedule,” Pocock said in an open letter to fans.
“Playing under former Springboks coach Jake White with all of his knowledge and experience will allow me to have a fresh approach to the game and continue to challenge myself.”
Pocock, 24, captained the Wallabies for the first time this season and is regarded as the future of Australian rugby.
He symbolised the hope for a brighter Force future and said his decision to leave was not taken lightly, seven years after he signed as a 17-year-old.
However, the Force faithful should not be surprised that Pocock has accepted the overtures of World Cup and Tri-Nations winning coach White, who transformed the Brumbies from bottom feeders a year ago into respected title contenders this season.
The Force have not made the Super 15 playoffs in six seasons of Super Rugby and have bungled the process of finding a new coach this year four month after Richard Graham jumped ship in mid-season to the Reds.
During this period Heineken Cup winning coach Michael Cheika and Waratahs coach Michael Foley are both believed to have rejected job offers from the Perth club.
Pocock, the best openside flank in the world in the critical role of poaching turnover ball, has been described as freakish by Wallaby coach Robbie Deans.
The No.7 was the single biggest factor in Australia’s dethroning of the reigning world champion Springboks during last year’s World Cup in New Zealand.
He led the turnover count for much of this year’s Super 15 despite the Forces poor performances.
The Force desperately needed to retain Pocock to try and build a future from the rubble of a season that ended with the Perth club finishing second bottom of the ladder both to reassure the Force faithful and attract quality players to the club.
Pocock was born and bred in Zimbabwe and migrated to Brisbane with his family in 2002.
He won the John Eales Medal, the highest honour in Australian Rugby, in 2010 and was also recognised at an international level after being nominated alongside five other players for IRB Player of the Year.