Pocock making 'massive improvement' from injury
Updated: September 20, 2011, 00:11
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WELLINGTON, New Zealand(AP) David Pocock has made a "massive improvement'' from a back injury and is an outside chance of playing against the United States at the Rugby World Cup on Friday, according to Australia assistant coach David Nucifora.
Pocock was a crucial absentee in Australia's 15-16 loss to Ireland last Saturday, but Nucifora said the openside flanker hasn't yet been ruled out of the Pool C match against the U.S. Eagles.
The Wallabies have no specialist backup for Pocock and his continued absence would be disruptive to the squad, even taking into account the relatively modest standard of the remaining pool opponents: the Americans and Russia.
"If you'd seen him on match-day morning and you see him now, there's a massive improvement,'' Nucifora said Tuesday. "At this point we're hopeful but, obviously, if there's any doubt we won't risk any of our players making something that's relatively minor into something major.
"At this point, we expect everyone bar Digby (Ioane) to be available for selection on Friday night. Obviously the only other one there is David Pocock, to see how he comes along and improves in the next day or two. At this point we're hopeful.''
Nucifora said the Australian players had watched the video of the loss to Ireland for the last time on Monday night and were determined to rectify their shortcomings.
"It's not pretty viewing,'' he said. "It's not the most enjoyable part of the job for the players or the coaches to review those sort of performances, but you get a lot out of it and that's important.
"I think we know the areas that we didn't perform as well as we should have in the match and we're going to have to improve on some of those areas, so it's quite straightforward really. It was there for everyone to see what happened, so we've got to get better. It's a matter of the team collectively understanding what didn't go well and what did go well and fixing the things that didn't work for us.''
Nucifora said the failings against Ireland were failings of the team as a whole and no individuals had been asked to accept responsibility.
"The good thing about rugby is in six or seven days you get to go out there and rectify things, so that's what they're looking forward to doing on Friday night,'' Nucifora said. "The players are just champing at the bit to get out there and get back on track.''
Nucifora said the loss to Ireland, which is likely to ensure the Wallabies finish second in the pool and potentially face South Africa in the quarterfinals, wouldn't change the Wallabies' approach to selection policy. Nor would it prompt any major re-evaluation of their plans.
"You go in having to be adaptable and flexible to your circumstances,'' he said. "We'll be looking at that and we'll make our selections accordingly.''