Friday 9 December 2016

Rugby star Pocock opts to take a year out from the sport to focus on his studies

Published 16/03/2016 | 09:53

He may be one of the world's most gifted rugby players but David Pocock has always been about more than the game.

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The tigerish breakdown poacher has regularly done volunteer work and famously chained himself to a digger to protest coal-mining in Australia. So it doesn't come as a huge surprise that although he turned down big money offers from abroad to sign with the Brumbies in Super Rugby and his national team up to the next World Cup, he has a clause in his contract that allows him to take a 12-month sabbatical.

There have been rumours that the back row, who was one of the dominant players at last year's World Cup, may use his time off to study at Cambridge. For his part, Pocock merely alluded to his desire to use his time away from rugby to pursue his academic interest, among other things.

"I really appreciate the willingness the ARU and Brumbies have shown in allowing me to weigh up my desire to be available for selection leading into the next World Cup against my longevity in the game and pursuing interests outside the sport," Pocock said in a statement published in the Sydney Morning Herald.

"I believe that after 11 seasons of professional rugby, having a year away from the sport will help increase my years in the game I love.

"It will also give me the opportunity to do a bit more study and pursue interests outside of rugby."

It is very unusual for a player of Pocock's stature to take a year out from the game but it shows how valuable he is that Australia coach Michael Cheika has allowed it.

And for people who think it may adversely impact his performance, Pocock suffered season-ending knee injuries in 2013 AND 2014 before returning last year to give arguably his best set of displays.

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