Pocock braces for more breakdown pain
Australia's rebound win in their first test against Wales following their shock loss to Scotland gave David Pocock his first victory as captain but also a taste of the taxing encounters to come for the remainder of the series.
The 24-year-old flanker arrived in Melbourne on Sunday wearing a face coloured with bruises and stitching crawling over his right eye-socket following a tempestuous battle at the breakdown in the 27-19 win at Lang Park.
Pocock watched Australia's southern hemisphere rivals New Zealand and South Africa fell Ireland and England respectively on television in a tough weekend for northern hemisphere rugby and marvelled at the physical nature of the tackle area in all three games.
"Watching South Africa-England and New Zealand-Ireland, the breakdown is such a huge part of rugby at the moment," Pocock told Reuters at Melbourne's Tullamarine airport.
"So that focus won't change for us and Wales. It was pretty tough at times Both teams contested well and both teams turned over some ball and gave themselves good attacking opportunities."
Pocock turned in a power of work with Wycliff Palu and Scott Higginbotham as they edged Wales's much-vaunted back row led by captain and flanker Sam Warburton.
Pocock's ferocity at the breakdown was singled out by Australia coach Robbie Deans, who rated him the best ball-scavenger in the game.
"He is a physical freak. He has such a low centre of gravity, he's got such strength and he's quick and he's smart," Deans told reporters.
"So he gets into good position and he claims good position. He's nigh impossible to move and he gets the benefit of that."
Zimbabwe-born Pocock said Wales would nonetheless come out harder for the second test of their three-match series in Melbourne, and said they would adapt quickly having initially struggled with referee Craig Joubert's policing of the tackle area.
"We knew the importance of starting well against the Welsh," Pocock said.
"They're a team with a lot of confidence and we saw last night how good they are in attack at times. It was very hard to defend.
"So we're pretty happy to win the first game but they're a classy side and we know that they will improve for next week."
Pocock, standing in for injured skipper James Horwill, had a baptism of fire in his test debut as captain against Scotland as the Wallabies slumped to a 9-6 defeat in Newcastle.
He was among a number of players treated for hypothermia after Tuesday's match in tempestuous conditions.
Local media were scatching about the loss, which gave Scotland their first win on Australian soil in 30 years.
Pocock, widely tipped to take over the captaincy from lock Horwill eventually, appeared about as fussed by the criticism as the knocks on his face.
"Everyone's happy when you win," he said. "It's the Wallabies so when we don't meet that expectation people are entitled to their opinion.
"We and we have to cop that and get on with it. I was really proud of the way the guys dealt with the loss against Scotland and we just got on with it."