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David Pocock ruled out of Australia’s clash against England

Australia’s talismanic back row David Pocock has been ruled out of the Twickenham showdown with England this weekend with a neck injury.

Question marks had remained over the number 8’s condition despite being pencilled in to start in Michael Cheika’s team, but failing a late fitness test on Friday means Pocock will be forced to watch on from the sidelines.

The Brumbies star has been playing through a neck injury all year, head coach Cheika confirmed after Australia’s 26-7 win in Italy last week. Pocock was withdrawn from the match in the 51st minute after a blow to his neck caused the issue to worsen.

The 30-year-old had passed a fitness test on Thursday to ensure he was tentatively cleared to be selected by Cheika. But doubts were still present when Cheika was asked about the player’s status.

“He’s hurting but he’s desperate to play,” Cheika said on Thursday.

“He’s had them at him all year. He puts his head into places people go to and he’s copped a fair few whacks in there this year. So, he’s certainly not scared to keep putting his head there. Hopefully it’ll get looked after when he’s in there.”

Australia are yet to confirm who will replace Pocock in their line-up, with Cheika naming a 6-2 split on the replacements bench the opportunity could arise for utility back Kurtley Beale to feature having previously been left out of the squad altogether.

The team’s medical staff have also been kept busy by a stomach bug which had struck a few members of the squad, but Bernard Foley and Israel Folau have both been given the green light to play against England – a team Australia have failed to beat in their last five meetings.

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