Pocock "doing everything" to be fit for Rugby World Cup

David Pocock says he will be doing everything he can to ensure he is fit for the upcoming Rugby World Cup after ruling out a Super Rugby return for the Brumbies.

Pocock has played his final game for the Brumbies and has put all of his focus on September's tournament after a near three-month layoff with a calf injury.

The 31-year-old initially suffered the calf injury back in January at Wallabies camp and though he has played three games this season, he has not been able to get the muscle 100 per cent right.

Pocock said the call to focus on the World Cup took pressure off himself to try and rush back, as well as limiting the weekly questions to coach Dan McKellar about his star no. 7's return date.

"It’s been frustrating," he said.

"I took December and tried to get my body right and then first day of camp in Janaury I strained my calf and since then it’s been an ongoing issue.

"You’re putting pressure on yourself to get back out there, you want to be contributing and I think after talking to (McKellar and CEO Phil Thomson), 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."

It is understood the injury stems from a section of calf muscle that stubbornly refused to knit back together and experts say Pocock's issue is an uncommon one. 

"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," he said.

"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, (S&C) Ben Serpell who I've spent far too much around over the years."

Pocock would be among the first picked for the Wallabies if fit and though he couldn't guarantee he'd be back in time for Test season, he said he would throw everything into his rehab.

"You're doing everything you can," he said.

"So, you're obviously aiming for that and that's driving you. To pull on the Wallabies jersey again is obviously my goal.

"It's a huge honour and it's something I love doing so I'll be doing everything I can to get myself right and get into the best shape I can."

Rather than trying to push for a return date, Pocock said the focus would be on reaching milestones as he pushes for a comeback.

"I'd love to play next weekend in Japan," he said.

"I think it’s one of those things rather than putting a time frame on it they’re going to put things that I need to be able to do to progress.

"That seems to be the best approach and we'll do that and see how it goes."

Pocock will head to Japan after the 2019 Rugby World Cup, to fulfil the final part of a three-year flexible contract he signed in 2016.

The openside has played two Top League campaigns with the Panasonic Wild Knights, book ending a year-long sabbatical with Japanese seasons in 2017 and 2018, before returning to the Brumbies and Wallabies in 2018 and  2019.

He has not featured for the Brumbies since a round four clash against the Rebels and with just three matches left in the regular season, the odds of a Super Rugby return always appeared slim.

The openside has played 112 Super Rugby games since making his debut for the Western Force in 2006,  but has missed 57 matches since moving to Canberra compared to the 43 he's played. 

Two consecutive knee reconstructions crippled his 2013 and 2014 seasons before Pocock made an emphatic comeback to play a key role in the 2015 Super Rugby season and Rugby World Cup.

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said Pocock would continue to be involved off the field in the team's previews and reviews each week and in whatever other ways he can contribute.

Whether Pocock continues his Wallabies career beyond 2019 is still unclear, with the flanker still eligible for Test rugby even if he is based offshore.

Pocock said he hadn't thought beyond his final commitment with Panasonic when it came to his international future.

"I haven’t thought beyond there," he said.

"Playing for Australia is such an honour, it’s something I love doing, going out there representing Australia and then for me so many people who've helped me on the way who may not be Australian  but support the Wallabies.

"At this stage, the goal is to get back into that jersey and contribute in that World Cup."

Pocock's body has been battered in a 13-year professional career, with neck injuries the most recent concern for the flanker, who forewent an end-of-year trip to try and strengthen that body part.

McKellar described Pocock's impact at the Brumbies in his seven seaosns in Canberra "enormous".

"He arrived initially under Jake’s time and had some setbacks early on but 2015/16 were big years for Poey," he said.

"The qualities he brings on-field, his ability at the breakdown, I think his toughness is something that's very understated. I've seen him play through a lot of pain, a lot of injury and done all he can to get on the park.

"There was a game on Bloemfontein there are few years ago where he could barely catch a ball in the Thursday training session, played that Saturday in Bloem and got man of the match against the Cheetahs."

The Brumbies have already moved to shore up their back row department for 2020 and beyond, re-signing Rob Valetini and Tom Cusack and the ACT club are also believed to be interested in bringing Waratahs flanker Will Miller to the capital.

While Pocock's move will leave a big hole in the Brumbies back row, the next tier have stepped up this season in his absence.

Cusack and Pete Samu have been in superb form for the Brumbies along with new recruit Jahrome Brown.

McKellar said their emerging crop should continue to pick Pocock's brain as much as they could in the upcoming weeks.

"For our young guys coming through - for your Valetinis and those sort of people - you encourage them to watch him, ask questions and learn off him whilst he’s here and then understand what goes into the professional player that he is and the world class player that he is," he said.

"It's disappointing that he can't contribute for the next six weeks but we'll make sure that as he always does that his contribution's strong off the field as well."

The Brumbies head to Tokyo this week to take on the Sunwolves.