Thursday 18 July 2019

Australia star David Pocock reveals his secret Rugby World Cup inspiration - David Attenborough

Oliver Brown

David Pocock looked horrendous as he emerged for training on Tuesday morning: two purple shiners, a deep cut next to his right eye, and his nose wrenched out of its customary alignment.

But Australia’s ferocious back-row star claimed that he was, by nature, a far gentler character, who liked nothing better than to relax ahead of Saturday’s World Cup final by watching David Attenborough documentaries.

“I’m a big fan of wildlife documentaries, particularly David Attenborough’s,” Pocock said. “He’s a big hero of mine. So, that was my post-game recovery after the Argentina final: put the feet up and stick a couple of Attenborough episodes on.

"I was rewatching his Africa series from 2013, which is just spectacular. If he wants to come to the final, I’m sure we could organise a ticket. He’s a legend.”

Australia's David Pocock during the press conference today
Action Images via Reuters / Peter Cziborra
Australia's David Pocock during the press conference today Action Images via Reuters / Peter Cziborra Livepic

Pocock, the star of Australia’s extraordinary work at the breakdown throughout this tournament, grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe surrounded by big game.

He has been using his Twitter account during the World Cup to raise awareness of rhino conservation, although he looked nonplussed when asked here if he would be extending the same approach to pandas. “I don’t know a whole heap about pandas,” he said.

In Attenborough language, Pocock is a rare species of injured Wallaby.

That he had been seriously roughed up by the Argentinian pack was clear enough from the contusions all across his face on Tuesday, although he would not clarify whether he had a broken nose. To borrow head coach Michael Cheika’s line this week about the “lovers and fighters” in the Australia squad, Pocock would be every inch the fighter-in-chief.

“Actually, I like to consider myself more of a lover. But a knock on the nose puts paid to that. It’s relatively straight. My partner, Emma, says that as long as I don’t start snoring she is happy with me not having a fully straight nose.”

Pocock has argued throughout his career that he does not want to be defined by rugby. Instead, he has thrown himself into myriad forms of social activism, from chaining himself to mining equipment in New South Wales as part of an environmental demonstration to refusing to marry his partner until gay marriage becomes legal across Australia.

But he increasingly accepts, should the Wallabies vanquish New Zealand this weekend for a record World Cup triumph, that he will be an integral part of the country’s sporting history.

“I’m phenomenally grateful for all the opportunities that rugby has given me,” he said. “But I am also very conscious that, ultimately, it’s just a game.”

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