Ian Foster has revealed the All Blacks are preparing for David Pocock to play for the Wallabies in their Rugby Championship meeting on Saturday.
The New Zealand assistant coach was speaking to the media ahead of the first Bledisloe Cup Test at the Optus Stadium in Perth.
Foster told reporters the world champions aren’t taking anything for granted, as Pocock works his way back to full fitness from a hamstring injury.
Posting a photo to Instagram sharing his progress, Australia could meet the challenge of the All Blacks with a back row double-act of Pocock and skipper Michael Hooper.
“They’re quality footballers,” Foster said of Pocock and Hooper. “We’re preparing for that but we also know if he doesn’t make it, there will be someone else there ready to do the job. We’re guessing that he will play.”
Pocock, 31, has been limited for playing time since picking up the hamstring injury early during the Super Rugby campaign with the Brumbies.
Australia head coach Michael Cheika intervened to wrap the flanker in cotton wool for the World Cup.
And after almost five months out, New Zealand captain Sam Cane feels his opposite number would show no signs of rust.
“When you’ve played that much Test-match footy and you’re used to playing [at] Super Rugby level consistently, I think it’s more a mental than physical thing,” Cane said.
“I’d expect him to come back and be right in the thick of things. Your match fitness is usually not quite where you want it to be, but because you’ve been in those situations before you can push on through.”