By Lee Stace

WHO DOES Wallabies coach Robbie Deans think he is kidding?

In case you reckon this scribe – or hack, as I was referred to last week by someone who, despite taking disdain at what I wrote, proceeded to comment on my blog – has gone off his rocker, I am talking about the transplanted New Zealander’s comments that David Pocock is a better player than Richie McCaw.

It’s all a load of hogwash, because the fact is Pocock isn’t. His allround skillset has yet to fully develop.

Don’t get me wrong. Deans was right to praise Pocock for his breakdown work after the Wallabies’ victory over Wales last weekend. After all, the skipper’s ability to make a right nuisance of himself at the ruck was what stymied the tourists’ chances of building crucial momentum.

He’s right to say that that Zimbabwe-born fetcher’s low centre of gravity and muscular build makes him nigh impossible to shift when he has arched himself over an isolated ball carrier. He’s right to say that Pocock can manoeuvre himself into good positions, even when contending with heavy traffic at the tackled-ball area.

But so does McCaw. In fact, he has been doing it for 104 quality tests for the All Blacks since his Lansdowne Road coronation as the ‘breakdown king’ against Ireland in 2001.

The other thing that needs to be taken into consideration is that there is more to an openside’s game that just tackling and pilfering turnovers. Those are just two aspects of the position’s brief.

As well as being ever-present in support, modern-day No 7s have to also provide a physical edge when carrying the ball.

McCaw does the latter very well – and it is an area of his game that has grown as he has altered his approach to his work over the years. Pocock is not noted for his work with the ball tucked under the arm of his burly upper body.

Then there is consistency. No team has ever devised a strategy to limit the effectiveness of McCaw at the breakdown, instead resorting to claims that he cheats.

Although Pocock is beginning to have a similar influence there, he doesn’t bring it week-in, week-out like his New Zealand counterpart does on the international stage. The All Blacks successfully shut him down in the Rugby World Cup semifinals last year by running at him and forcing him to make a lot of tackles.

Of course, at 24 and with 41 tests on his résumé, there is every chance Pocock will inherit the title as the best openside in world rugby.

But right now there is only one and that is McCaw.

Posted Comments

Pocock is over rated. I am a passionate Reds and Wallabies supporter and trust me he is way over rated and shouldn't even be captain. Let me ask you this when was the last time you saw Pocock link with the backs? He might win you the ball at the breakdown but the bloke can not pass so when he's running with the ball you can rest assure he'll take it ground. Deans would like Pocock to have McGaw aura namely get away with murder at the breakdown but he's no where near that great cheat McGaw. Go the Reds!
nathan whitney
deans actually says that pocock is the best ruck warrior he has seen. as far as best number 7 you reckon deans would say richie?
I agree with Greg-, chances are that Dean's quote was taken out of context
Nick Wilcox (Aus)
It's all very well to be banging on about Pocock and McCaw, and someone mentioned Jones - who was brilliant. But if Pocock's better than McCaw, and George Smith was better than Pocock (an uncontestable fact), that makes Smith the best ever. Smith had an all-round game. And it was Smith, not McCaw, who invented the wide-stanced pilfer at the breakdown.
Surprise, surprise! A Kiwi hack asserting that a Kiwi player in his twilight years is better than a rising Aussie player. Ho-hum.
Written like a typical one-eyed Kiwi. Expand your vision, both McCaw and Pocock are great 7s, and both countries are lucky to have them.
I may be wrong here but does Robbie actually say Pocock is the best in the world or the best open side flanker he has ever coached? And if the later, is he referring to best TO COACH or best HE HAS COACHED? Would be interesting what comment of Robbies is actually being quoted here and if you have the right end of the stick...
I may be wrong here but does Robbie actually say Pocock is the best in the world or the best open side flanker he has ever coached? And if the later, is he referring to best TO COACH or best HE HAS COACHED? Would be interesting what comment of Robbies is actually being quoted here and if you have the right end of the stick...
stuart mcrae
Deans had an incredible coaching record with the Crusaders, ... he should be more thankful he had the world's best #7 to work with.
crankshaft 6
Your opinion is noted and as do most Southern hemisphere flankers both break every law in the book and so they should if allowed, it is the refs that make them look as good as you say not just them
humble opinion etc . . Pocock's good over the ball, McCaw adds ball-carrying and link work. But what you get from Richie, on-form or not, fully-fit or not, is leadership. Forget the Wales match, Pocock just didn't know what to do when it rained at Newcastle vs Scotland.
there really is no one who i believe comes close to Ritchie. deans is pulling his pud. Could pocock though be compared to josh kronfeld at the breakdown? pocock looks more like a bodybuilder and bodybuilders dont make great rugby players.
I agree its a little premature, but only just! Consider the battles that they have had Pocock vs McCaw. I say this because you said 'no team has ever devised a strategy to limit the effectiveness of McCaw at the breakdown.....' Pocock is the strategy - and has won the battle more times than he has lost. Both with the wallabies and the force.
Danny Lek
I absolutely agree with Lee Stace's comments on David Pocock. While David's good, he's still way off Ritchie McCaw's standard of performance. David's performance so far had been against Scotland and Wales, 2 teams, who are not near to or of the same calibre as the ABs and the Springboks. So it's pre-mature for Robbie Deans to judge.
Pocock is better now
Your right, Ritchie has been there done that, he no longer pilfers, he just lies all over the opposition ball!! The world cup final a classic example, an absolute joke what he got away with! Pocock is known for carrying the ball too, he is constantly used by the Wallabies to truck it up off the line-out and around the ruck! Ritchie was the best in the world, no doubt, but not anymore. The fact he was good in the past has no bearing on his current form!
Hi Lee Deans did not say he's the best of all time, he stated currently the best in the world... of which he is. Do yourself a favour and check Verusco and SportsData stats to see just how much better he is that Richie in pilfers, tackles made, tackles missed, try-assists, off-loads and almost every other stat there is. It's not rocket-science mate.
Tung Chek
What a load of rubbish. Everyone knows McCaw has been allowed to get away with blue murder every time he plays. Witness Craig Joubert RWC YouTube video. And poor old Vinny Munro hasn't been allowed to ref a game since he gave McCaw a yellow card in Perth last year. Tung Ng Chek Hong Kong
Riwai Grace
Robbie Deans is just doing what any good coach does, talk up his own players, you cant compare players from different eras, Richie has been amazing over the last 12 Years and changed his style of play over that period he is now a true leader of men like Buck used to be. Pocock will be the same in years to come the trick will be when playing the Force or Australia we have to change our tactics like they did in the Semi FInal last year so he can't be so effective. Right now Richie is King
AHHH -- first I take a job with 'The Enemy' because I didn't get the one I actually wanted, but, unfortunately, it doesn't work out quite the way I had planned! Next, I struggle to replicate the success I had tasted with my home franchise, as I have a bunch of second string wannabees to work with! As I see failure beckoning me forth, what else can I do but turn on those I left behind -- hoping that the more I say it, the more it will become fact! Sorry Robbie -- no - one's listening anymore!
Here here, well written. Richie has been there, done that , and plays a totally different game these days, & everyone is still trying to catch up. I actually think Dean's totally disrespect s Richie. Pity, he got his present job on the back of Richie & co.
What ball is played with this sport tennis.
You are allowed only 100 words for comments.
Your have 100 words left.

We at and NZ Rugby News Ltd like to keep our readers up to date with the latest news, offers from our sites and information from our partners. We are committed to protecting your privacy and will not pass your details on to any company outside of our network.

We at NZ Rugby News Ltd invite our readers (you) to post comments on the blogs on our website. Please read our terms and conditions below.

Please note the views which are expressed in the comment areas are not our views, nor the views of any of our staff. We accept no liability in respect to any material posted in the comments areas and are not responsible for the content and accuracy of that material.

If you place reliance on material posted in the comments area, you do so at your own risk, and you indemnify us from any liabilities, claims, costs, loss (including consequential loss) or damage suffered or caused by doing so.

If you comment on our blogs, the following terms and conditions apply.

Our rights

We retain the right (but not the obligation) to edit, delete, reject or remove any comment which you post or want to post in our blog areas.

You grant us non-exclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, worldwide licence to republish any material you submit to us, without limitation, in any format.

We retain the right to terminate your ability to comment on our blogs if we believe you are abusing the service in any way, or have breached these terms and conditions.

You consent to our collecting and storing your email and IP address for security purposes and you will also receive a complementary subscription to RugbyEnews.

Your obligations

You will not be able to post the following comments on our blogs:

(a) Anything which is not an original work or infringes upon the copyright, registered trademark or intellectual property rights of another person;

(b) Anything which is or could be deemed to be obscene, offensive, pornographic, vulgar, profane, indecent or otherwise illegal;

(c) Anything which is defamatory towards a person, company or organisation.

(d) Anything which racially or religiously vilifies, incites violence or hatred, or is likely to offend, insult or humiliate others based on race, religion, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation or any physical or mental disability;

(e) Anything which you know or suspect is false, misleading or deceptive.

(f) Anything which advertises or promotes goods, services and products in a commercial manner; or

(g) Anything which provides financial advice or advice of any kind to any financial product.



You agree to fully indemnify and hold us harmless against any liabilities, claims, costs, loss (including consequential loss) or damage incurred as a result of any comments you post in our blog area, or as a result of any breach by you of these terms and conditions.

Notwithstanding any indemnity provided by you under these terms and conditions, we retain the right to assume the conduct of any defence to a claim brought against us and of any proceedings or appeal issued by us, and you agree to provide all reasonable cooperation (including making relevant documents available) that we may require from you in relation to any such claim, proceeding or appeal.

These terms and conditions shall be construed and applied in accordance with the laws of New Zealand, and you consent to the exclusive jurisdiction of the New Zealand Courts to determine any matter or dispute which arises under these terms and conditions in accordance with the laws of New Zealand.

Upcoming Matches

2014 Super Rugby fixtures

2014 Super Rugby fixtures

All the fixtures you need to plan your viewing pleasure!

Fixtures & Results

Super Rugby
Heartland Championship
Rugby World Cup 2011


Mark Calverley Super Rugby - Not going to plan for NZ teams. Should we worry?

Not all our own way for NZ teams

By Mark Calverley

Mark Calverley Benji - Should he stay or should he go?

Pressure is on Benji, but shouldn't we remember SBW went to France (Toulon) for 2 years to learn the game.

By Mark Calverley

Mark Calverley Concussion

With all of the news around concussion do you think there should be safety measures in place for players to ensure they don't play on after a head know? How and who should police that?

By Mark Calverley

Mark Calverley Club Rugby - How to get the MOJO back

With the start of club rugby upon us, how can we maintain the value of the clubs in player pathways and community spirit.

By Mark Calverley