Pocock retires from Super Rugby as 'rare' injury still has World Cup in jeopardy

David Pocock's career has always been a mix of rugby, injuries and politics, so it was fitting all three featured during his Super Rugby farewell announcement on Tuesday.

The champion Wallabies flanker spoke at length about the end of his 13-year Super Rugby career, the frustrating and "rare" calf injury threatening his World Cup hopes and his reaction to Israel Folau being sacked for homophobic posts on social media.

Pocock has been ruled out for the rest of the ACT Brumbies season after medical staff decided it was best to turn his attention to the Wallabies' World Cup campaign rather than rushing into a comeback.

Losing Pocock would be a crippling blow for Australia's chances of winning the World Cup for a third time, particularly after Folau's contract was terminated earlier this month.


Pocock tore his calf on the first day of a Wallabies pre-season camp in January and he has been unable to full recover since, limiting him to just three games for the Brumbies this season.


He has had multiple injections and has enlisted the help of AIS medical staff to try to speed up his recovery, but even now there are no guarantees he will be available for World Cup selection.

"I think the best thing now is to take the pressure off and actually get it right rather than continuing to do what I was doing," Pocock said. "I'd be very disappointed [if I never play again]. It could be the case, I don't know. But I'll certainly be doing everything I can for it not to be the case. You've just got to deal with things that happen.

"All the specialists we've talked to say it's fairly rare so something I just really need to get right and give it a bit more time than we have.

"A few times I've got back up to 70, 80 per cent and thought I was pretty close. We'll certainly get it right and I'll be based here in Canberra for my rehab and working with doctor, physio, [Brumbies athletic director] Ben Serpell, who I've spent far too much around over the years."


Pocock is widely regarded as the world's best openside flanker, dominating the breakdown at Super Rugby and Test level since bursting on to the scene as a teenager in 2006.

His body has copped a hammering on the field, putting himself in positions most other people wouldn't dare go. He has carried that mantra off the field as well, taking strong stances on social issues ranging from same-sex marriage equality to climate change.

Many viewed Pocock and Wallabies teammate Folau as polar opposites because of differing beliefs, particularly about homosexuals. For Pocock, though, it was always about the issue rather than individuals.

He described the Folau saga as sad but hoped sport could continue to push boundaries to be more inclusive.

"It's been a really tough situation for rugby. At the end of the day we've got so much more in common than the few things that might divide us," Pocock said when asked if he had spoken to Folau. "As a sport, we want to be inclusive. We want to create a safe place for people so that when they turn up to play rugby they feel like they can be whoever they are.

"I've always said sport is at its best when its inclusive and it's actually challenging society to be more inclusive. Rugby has done a great job over the years of doing that.

"It's been dealt with now … it's really, really sad to see him go but I really hope we can continue with the work that's been done to create a safe place.

"It's a hard situation to come up with a winner. It's just sad.

"We all need to move on and think about how we can play our part in creating a more kind society. We're facing some much bigger issues than that, we're facing some serious issues with climate change and the ecological crisis we're in. We need people to be coming together and taking some meaningful action.

"There are a lot of great things happening, but it just seems like bad news seems to do better than all the good stuff, unfortunately."

A career in politics after rugby, perhaps? "I'm not sure," Pocock grinned. "It's not something I've thought a lot about. It's a pretty hard slog."