CANBERRA – Injury-plagued Australian great David Pocock retired from Super Rugby Tuesday, but is hanging on to his World Cup dreams as he fights to be fit for the competition in Japan.
Pocock, 31, has failed to shake off a calf injury that has dogged his season with the ACT Brumbies and there had been speculation he would sit out the rest of the season to ensure he can play in the World Cup from September to November.
“After 13 years of professional rugby, I'm looking forward to the challenges the rest of this year holds and also thinking about what comes next,” Pocock said in a statement released by the Brumbies.
The Canberra side said Pocock's injury is a “rare calf strain that is unfortunately not progressing as hoped and needs further time to heal”.
“No exact timeframe for a return to playing can be provided at this stage,” the club added.
Pocock, who has twice won Australia's top rugby union award, the John Eales Medal, has a contract with the Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan after the World Cup.
The 77-Test veteran will not seek a new contract with Australian Rugby after it runs out this year, but will remain eligible to play for the Wallabies.
Australia has a so-called “Giteau's Law”, which allows players with 60 caps who have played seven Super Rugby seasons to continue to be eligible for national selection after they move overseas.
Pocock has yet to call time on his international career, but he told the Canberra Times: “I haven't put anything in stone, but I think that's it.
“I feel like I've put a lot into my rugby, I've got a huge amount out of it and I'm very grateful for the opportunities I've had.
“But there's plenty of other stuff out there to do, and it's time to start stepping into whatever that's going to be.”
Born in Zimbabwe, Pocock started playing rugby at as an eight-year-old before his family fled the African nation and moved to Brisbane when Robert Mugabe's government enforced radical land seizures.
The Super Rugby veteran made his debut for the Western Force in 2006 just weeks after turning 18, and went on collect 69 caps with the Force over seven years before moving to the Brumbies in 2013.
His early years with the Brumbies were derailed by injuries, but in 2015 he collected a swathe of awards after a strong season, and finishes his Super Rugby career with 112 appearances and 19 tries.
A master of the breakdown, Pocock was one of the stars for Australia at the World Cups in 2011 and 2015 and became the 79th Wallabies captain in 2012 at age 23.
Pocock is also renowned for his activism work for climate change, gay rights and wildlife preservation.
He said in 2010 he would only wed once gay marriage was passed into law in Australia, which happened in late 2017. Pocock married his girlfriend in December.
Agence France-Presse (AFP)