Sports

Is David Pocock version 2.0 better than the first? The numbers say yes

Compare that to his stats from two years ago: 6.7 runs, 27 metres, 10.5 tackles per game and seven pilfers in 11 matches of the 2016 campaign.

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"Well, it's just Poey," Carter said. "He's one of the world's best players. He's had a fair bit of time off but you can see how much he enjoys being back.

"He's really helped in a leadership role this year and his performances take care of themselves. He always does everything he can to help the team and we've seen that over the last few weeks.

"I've played a lot of footy with Poey, so if you see the way he trains and how passionate he is … nothing surprises me any more. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, and I hope it continues."

Pocock spent his time away from Australian duties doing conservation work in Africa and working on his grandfather's farm in Zimbabwe in between playing stints in Japan.

David Pocock at Brumbies training on Saturday morning.

Photo: Elesa Kurtz

Arriving back in Canberra with a knee injury was the source of frustration for fans, who were desperate to have Pocock back at his peak. In the end, they shouldn't have worried.

The break from the Australian spotlight hasn't diminished his ability to dominate breakdowns and terrorise opposition teams.

"He was exceptional last weekend and the message from us to David is to just play on his natural instincts, he doesn't need to change his game [to accommodate the new laws]," said Brumbies forwards guru Laurie Fisher.

"I think if we can actually lay a better defensive platform around him, we can bring him into games even more than he is now.

"His tackle count is high, he's hard on the ball, he's got some nice link work in attack and his work rate is phenomenal. It's incredible he's come back and playing at this level immediately.

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"I don't know if he's come back better. He's always been top shelf, and I think he's come back as good as we've seen. The memory fades when you're not there, so I don't know if he's better, but I can see he's at the top of his game."

The Brumbies will be hoping Pocock continues his form purple patch when they play against the Argentina Jaguares in an afternoon battle in the capital.

The Brumbies haven't won back to back home games since 2016 and need to beat the Jaguares to help them build momentum into their campaign.

Pocock was cleared of a calf injury and will play in the back row alongside Tom Cusack and Isi Naisarani, while Carter returns to the starting side for the first time since being concussed six weeks ago.

The Brumbies and Jaguares have only played once since the Argentina side joined the competition. The Brumbies won that match 39-15 in Buenos Aires last year.

"You know they're going to turn up," said Brumbies coach Dan McKellar.

"We've got to be ready for them. All of these games are important. This is another opportunity for us at home and something we want to turnaround this year is our home record.

"Hopefully it's a chance for us in front of a big crowd at home that we can put on a good performance as a team and something that our fans enjoy."

The Brumbies are offering free entry for children with any general admission ticket and will invite fans on to the field after the game in the hope of luring people back to the stands.

SUPER RUGBY ROUND 10

Sunday: ACT Brumbies v Argentina Jaguares at Canberra Stadium, 4.05pm. Tickets from Ticketek.

Brumbies: 15. Tom Banks, 14. Henry Speight, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Kyle Godwin, 11. Chance Peni, 10. Wharenui Hawera, 9. Joe Powell, 8. Isi Naisarani, 7. David Pocock, 6. Tom Cusack, 5. Sam Carter, 4. Rory Arnold, 3. Allan Alaalatoa, 2. Folau Faingaa, 1. Scott Sio. Reserves: 16. Robbie Abel, 17. Mees Erasmus, 18. Nic Mayhew, 19. Darcy Swain, 20. Michael Oakman-Hunt, 21. Matt Lucas, 22. Jordan Jackson-Hope, 23. Andrew Smith.

Jaguares: 15. Joaquin Tuculet, 14. Ramiro Moyano, 13. Matias Orlando, 12. Jeronimo De La Fuente, 11. Emiliano Boffelli, 10. Nicolas Sanchez, 9. Gonzalo Bertranou, 8. Javier Ortega Desio, 7. Marcos Kremer, 6. Pablo Matera, 5. Tomas Lavanini, 4. Guido Petti, 3. Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2. Agustin Creevy, 1. Santiago Garcia Botta. Reserves: 16. Julian Montoya, 17. Javier Diaz, 18. Juan Pablo Zeiss, 19. Matias Alemanno, 20. Leonardo Senatore, 21. Martin Landajo, 22. Bautista Ezcurra, 23. Bautista Delguy.

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Chris Dutton

Chris Dutton is a sports reporter at The Canberra Times.

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