Brumbies coach McKellar confident he can fill Pocock void

ACT Brumbies coach Dan McKellar says his young guns can replace David Pocock after losing the star flanker for three months on the eve of their Super Rugby season.

McKellar is confident the Brumbies culture of performing when called upon will fill the Pocock void and pointed to Chris Alcock stepping into the role with aplomb last season.

Although Alcock has left the club, McKellar said there are several back-row options and emphasised the Brumbies will still be a force without Pocock.

"We're well prepared with guys like Tom Cusack, who was one of the best performers in the NRC last year, then guys like Lachy McCaffrey, Lolo [Fakaosilea] and Rob [Valetini]," McKellar said.

"There are a number of guys that can fill that position and we need to understand Poey hasn't been at the club for nearly 18 months.

"So whilst it's disappointing, we feel we're in a good position to handle another couple of months and then benefit from getting a world-class player back and important time of season."

McKellar admitted it was a tough decision to put Pocock under the knife but would not be drawn into comment as to why it wasn't done during his sabbatical last year.

"The choices were keep pushing through and managing a knee that wasn't allowing him to perform at 100 per cent or go in and bite the bullet and get the surgery done so we have a world-class player being able to train and perform at the level we expect," McKellar said.

"It was a joint decision, obviously you talk to the player and consider what's in the best interest of the player and club, these decisions are always tough.

"Until you get an arthroscope in the knee, you're not sure what you're dealing with, it could it have been couple of weeks, but it is what it is and now we're dealing with it.

"It's going to benefit David and is obviously a short-term speed bump for us but we're prepared and we believe in the guys we have."

The Brumbies are famous for developing unknown players into Wallabies and McKellar said the setback was another chance for somebody to prove themselves.

"I've said a number of times the Brumbies provide opportunity for people, we develop footballers to make sure when their opportunity comes that they're ready to perform," McKellar said.

"We're really confident that the names I mentioned are going to be able to do that. Tom Cusack has spent the past 12 months transferring from sevens to Super Rugby.

"He's a strong No. 7, his preseason was a bit disruptive with a little surgery on his wrist, but if he's the one who gets the first opportunity then I'm confident he'll perform."

McKellar said Pocock's absence would not affect his captaincy plans which suggests the returning Christian Lealiifano or last year's skipper Sam Carter will lead the Brumbies this season.

"The message I want to get across is we're still in a good position to fill the void and provide an opportunity for someone else," McKellar said.

"David is still going to contribute off the field and have a strong presence around the group, he's a valuable member of the team.

"Christian played his last game for Ulster this morning [Monday] and got through okay, so he'll also come back into the group this week and have a big impact as well."

Pocock said the end-of-sabbatical surgery was the "smart decision" to avoid long-term damage.

The 65-Test Wallaby could be back as early as the Brumbies' first home game of the season on March 17, but will wait to meet with medical staff before plotting a path back to Super Rugby.

This story Brumbies coach McKellar confident he can fill Pocock void first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.