Melbourne - Australia coach Ewen McKenzie has backed David Pocock to return to top-flight rugby and push for a World Cup berth in 2015 after the flanker underwent a second knee reconstruction in just over a year.
The 25-year-old openside had surgery on his left knee late on Wednesday and faces another year on the sidelines, having only just returned to his provincial ACT Brumbies side after missing most of last season.
“To win a World Cup you need quality depth and experience at each position and David has played 46 Tests already, so if he is healthy and in-form it will only benefit the Wallabies,” News Ltd media quoted McKenzie as saying on Thursday.
“I have no doubts he'll continue to be extremely diligent when he begins his rehab and we're all looking forward to seeing him make a successful comeback in the future.
“I don't think there would be anyone within Australian rugby that doesn't sympathise with David.
“Anyone who knows him would understand just how hard he worked during his rehab and personally I'm disappointed for him that he won't get to reap the benefits of that for the Brumbies and Wallabies this year.
“However, I also know that David is a consummate professional and he won't let this setback keep him down for too long.”
Pocock tweeted a picture of himself recovering in a hospital bed on Thursday and expressed thanks for a wave of sympathy from the world's rugby community.
“Devastated but trying to keep perspective. So appreciative of all the support I've received. Thank you all,” he tweeted.
When fit, Zimbabwe-born Pocock is one of the world's top number sevens, but his fierce attack at the breakdown has taken a heavy toll on his body.
Australia have no shortage of quality number sevens at their disposal and New South Wales Waratah Michael Hooper has filled the Wallabies' position with aplomb in Pocock's long absence.
The Brumbies, finalists in last year's Super Rugby competition, have a far bigger hole to fill, however.
Former Wallabies flanker George Smith returned from Japan last year and was outstanding in the Brumbies' number seven jersey with Pocock sidelined, but is not expected to take another SOS call.
With a loss and win in their two games this season, the Brumbies face the Hurricanes in Wellington on Friday, and skipper Ben Mowen said the team was determined to lift Pocock's spirits with a win.
“When you lose a guy like that in your group, it hurts,” Mowen told Australia's Fox Sports channel on Thursday.
“All we really want to do is make sure that we put in a huge performance on Friday night ... That's probably the best support we can give him at this point.” – Reuters