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Wallabies great Tim Horan has declared injured Brumbies flanker David Pocock a ”definite” selection for next year’s World Cup campaign in England, claiming Pocock is capable of winning back his Australian jersey by the end of this year.
Horan visited Pocock in a Brisbane hospital on Thursday after the 25-year-old had his second season-ending knee reconstruction in 12 months.
Questions have arisen about whether Pocock, one of the world’s best No.7s, will ever return to his peak, but Horan’s optimistic assessment comes from experience.
Pocock’s surgeon, Dr Peter Meyers, also operated on Horan’s knee 20 years ago, in 1994, when the Wallabies centre suffered a horrific injury.
Despite being told he would never play elite rugby again, Horan represented the Wallabies the next year at the 1995 World Cup and also was part of the triumphant 1999 campaign.
”The doctor walked in on my 24th birthday, on the 18th of May 1994 after an arthroscopy, and said, ‘Tim, I don’t think you’ll play rugby again,” Horan said.
”He gave me the hard truth, but I look back at it and I played about 14 months later.
”I had a lot of issues, I virtually dislocated my femur. I had both cruciate and medial ligaments ruptured, my knee cap was sitting in behind my thigh and there was damage to my joint, both cartilages were gone.
”Dave’s is isolated to the ACL [anterior cruciate ligament], which is great. It’s repaired, it’ll be stronger than ever.
”He’d be a chance to go on the end-of-season tour with the Wallabies subject to how the rehabilitation goes. He was very close to going last year, but opted out. It’ll depend on how the rehabilitation goes, but he’ll definitely be in the World Cup, there’s no doubt.”
Pocock was disappointed to miss last year’s British and Irish Lions tour of Australia, which only occurs every 12 years.
But Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie says a fit Pocock remains part of his World Cup plans and Horan said Pocock still had time on his side.
”The World Cup’s not until September 2015,” Horan said. ”Even if he starts with the Brumbies this time next year, he’s got all the Super Rugby season as well as all the Test matches leading into the World Cup.
”It takes time mentally to get yourself back to where you want to be on the field, that’s the mental experience you need,” he said.
”It’ll knock his confidence around, that’s understandable, you’re not bulletproof. But he’s got a very good support network. He knows what he has to do.”
Horan was confident Pocock would still had a long career ahead.
”You’d think Dave will be able to play until he’s 32, 33, so he’s got eight years of rugby left. He’s got plenty of time. There’s been a heap of professional sportsmen who’ve come back from two or even three knee reconstructions.”