LONDON – England coach Eddie Jones reckons the talk of Australia’s David Pocock being in doubt for Saturday’s Test is just predictable mind games from the Wallabies camp, and fully expects the loose forward to play at Twickenham.
Pocock was forced off the field in the second half of the win over Italy last weekend with a sore neck, an injury he first picked up in the second Bledisloe Cup loss to New Zealand earlier this year.
Australian scrumhalf Will Genia suggested his 30-year-old teammate may struggle to make the seven-day turnaround, but Jones felt it was a deliberate ploy from his old Randwick club mate Michael Cheika to keep England guessing.
“We’re not even thinking about it,” Jones told reporters.
“I hear this every time we play Australia – Pocock’s not going to be fit – so when I heard it, I thought: ‘Here we go again.’
“You know those merry-go-rounds? It’s a bit like that.”
An openside flank who plays largely at No 8 to accommodate Michael Hooper in the back row, Pocock is one of the best “poachers” of the ball in world rugby, and comes under a lot of attention from opposing forwards at the breakdown.
Pete Samu could come into the back row if Pocock was unable to play, and said his Wallabies teammate had definitely been unable to train because of the injury.
“Yeah well, (Jones) probably thinks it’s mind games from us, but if he’s not right, he’s not right,” he said.
“He was out of training yesterday, so we’ll give him every opportunity to be right this week, and go from there.”
Australia have also had to contend with a stomach bug sweeping through the camp, infecting fullback Israel Folau and flyhalf Bernard Foley, among others.
“It’s not ideal,” defence coach Nathan Grey said on Tuesday.
“But it’s part of footy, so just got to get on with it and those guys, no one’s going to die.”
Jones himself threw a curveball in Australia’s direction this week when he retained powerhouse centre Manu Tuilagi in his 26-man squad, just a day after rating the prospects of the Leicester Tigers centre being involved as “very doubtful”.
Tuilagi was due to make his first international appearance since 2016 in the opening November international against South Africa, only to be withdrawn from the bench due to a groin strain.Reuters