RWC 2015 - Argentina vs Australia: Fit-again Israel Folau and David Pocock return to give Australia a lift

The Hooper-Pocock axis will play a crucial part in how Australia fare, the team having clearly missed the influence of the injured Pocock against Scotland

Matt Majendie
Friday 23 October 2015 17:53 BST
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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

The former Wallaby Stirling Mortlock warned this week that Australia could not win the World Cup without influential back-rower David Pocock. So Mortlock will have joined his fellow countrymen in a collective sigh of relief after the No 8 passed a late fitness test yesterday following a calf injury and was named in the starting line-up for tomorrow’s semi-final against Argentina.

Australia, who had been waiting on the fitness of three players, were also boosted by the news that full-back Israel Folau had recovered from his ongoing ankle problem.

Pocock and Folau took part in their first proper training session just 48 hours before kick-off, but the match comes too soon for prop Scott Sio, whose elbow remains too swollen following the late win over Scotland. His place in the front row is taken by James Slipper. The return of Pocock and Folau relegates Ben McCalman and Kurtley Beale to the bench.

Michael Hooper will win his 50th cap as he renews his back-row partnership with Pocock. But the 23-year-old downplayed the importance of the milestone.

“Those personal achievements are nice to have for the family and the people who helped you get to this point,” he said. “As a team it’s about group success and that’s what we’re chasing. Individual glory means nothing without team success.”

Hooper was quick to praise McCalman and Beale for their role in the squad but welcomed the return of both Folau and Pocock.

“Just look at their performances over the last 12 months,” he said. “They’ve been hugely influential in so many moments, they’re a big part of the team and they can have a big influence on the game.”

The Hooper-Pocock axis will play a crucial part in how Australia fare, the team having clearly missed the influence of the injured Pocock against Scotland.

Asked about their partnership, Hooper added: “I think we have a pretty different game, different roles within the team to try to achieve. We want to be as influential in different areas of the game as we can be. He’s very good at what he does and has a nice skill set, and I try to back myself in other things.”

Head coach Michael Cheika has spoken of the game as a chance to “make Australia proud of their team” after they just maintained their interest in the tournament with Bernard Foley’s late penalty in that tumultuous 35-34 victory over Scotland.

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