One of the finest modern Wallabies, David Pocock, has announced his retirement from the sport almost a year on from his international retirement saying “the time was right” to hang up his playing boots.
The incredibly talented openside flanker has opted not to return to Japanese club Panasonic Wild Knights where he was due to play under former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.
The 32-year-old is well-known for his activism on social justice and environmental issues, will now dedicate his time to conservation.
“There’s this author in the (United) States, Rob Bell, who I’ve really enjoyed his stuff over the years, and I’ve heard him say, ‘You can leave when it feels like a graduation or you can hang in there and you have to leave when it feels like a divorce’. I’m hoping that it’s going to feel like a graduation,” Pocock told RUGBY.com.au in a wide-ranging exclusive interview.
“While it was a tough decision, it really feels like the right one now and as a lot of former athletes talk about, it’s not going to be smooth sailing but it’s going to be a great challenge.”
The Zimbabwe-born flanker was capped 83 times over an 11-year Wallabies career and played 112 Super Rugby games between stints with the Western Force and Brumbies.
Regarded as one of the finest exponents of the turnover, Pocock kicked off his career with appearances for Australian Schoolboys and Australia A in the 2007 IRB Pacific Nations Cup and made his test debut against New Zealand in Hong Kong in 2008.
He had a breakthrough year in 2009 during which he featured in 13 of the 14 Tests played by Australia including a man of the match effort in the drawn Test against Ireland at Croke Park, as well as a maiden Test try during the 33-12 win over Wales at Cardiff.
An incredible 2010 saw Pocock win the John Eales medal, in the same year he was shortlisted for the first of three world player of the year award nominations. In 2011, he played an integral part of the Wallabies side which despatched the 2007 World Cup holders South Africa in the quarter-final stage putting in a truly memorable shift in the seven jersey.
After the 2012 Super Rugby season, Pocock left the Western Force to join the Brumbies and continued to represent the Wallabies. However, he underwent a knee reconstruction in 2013 which saw him miss the British and Irish Lions tour.
A setback in 2014, in the course of his third game back after knee reconstruction, he damaged his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and had another knee reconstruction in late March 2014. He returned to the Brumbies in 2015 and helped the Wallabies to the Rugby World Cup Final where he scored a try in the defeat to the All Blacks.
A sabbatical deal after the World Cup in England saw Pocock join the Panasonic Wild Knights on a three-year deal in May 2016 with the deal being structured to make him eligible to play for Australia in the 2019 Rugby World Cup. He played the 2016–17 Japanese season with the Wild Knights; once that season ended in January 2017, he took a sabbatical from all rugby until the start of the Wild Knights' 2017–18 season.