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Pocock to play in Japan for Wild Knights

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Wallabies and Brumbies star David Pocock has agreed to play for the Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan on a three year deal.

It was announced earlier this year in March that Pocock was taking a one year break next season and that he was taking a sabbatical from Australian Rugby.

The announcement brought an end to speculation that Pocock would be moving to England and it was thought that he would be taking a year off from playing rugby.

However with the new announcement Pocock will commence duties with the Top League team in Japan following the conclusion of the Wallabies spring tour in December 2016.

Through the association, Pocock will be reunited with Robbie Deans, former Wallabies coach and head coach of the Wild Knights.

The Panasonic Wild Knights have won the Japanese National Rugby Union competition, Top League, for the last three years. The opportunity presents Pocock with a chance to become accustomed to Japanese conditions prior to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

From February 2017, Pocock will take six months away from the game, pursuing study and interests outside of rugby, before returning to the Panasonic Wild Knights in mid-August 2017.

David Pocock remains firmly committed to Australian rugby for the next three years and will return to the Brumbies in March 2018.

Pocock will play for the Brumbies throughout the 2018 and 2019 Super Rugby seasons and hope to put himself in contention to be selected for the Wallabies team during that period of time. At the end of 2019 Pocock will again return to the Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan for a further season.

Pocock says, “I’m excited about playing for a club like the Panasonic Wild Knights. They have a proud history with a great playing group. I’m really looking forward to working with (head coach) Robbie (Deans) and Berrick again. When George Smith came back from Japan in 2012 he had added a few things to his game that we talked about quite a bit, so I’m keen to use the time over there to work on various aspects of my game. Playing with the Wild Knights will hopefully give me a chance to practice new skills and experience a different style of rugby.”

“I really appreciate the opportunity the ARU have offered me to stay in the Australian rugby union set up. My goal is to continue to improve and be at my best in 2019.”

Head Coach of the Wild Knights, Robbie Deans commented “We are delighted that David has chosen Panasonic as a team that can assist him in fulfilling his ambitions in rugby. I have no doubt that he will enjoy the people at the club. David has been typically thorough in mapping out his future and we look forward to having him with us over the next few years.”

Pocock says, “I was drawn to the Panasonic Wild Knights for their focus on team building and their company ethos of ‘a Better Life, A Better World’. I’m also not a big city guy so the opportunity to play in Ota is really appealing.”

Mr Iijima, General Manager of the Panasonic Wild Knights “We feel very honoured to be able to welcome a player like David Pocock to the Panasonic Wild Knights. He is definitely one of the best current players in the international rugby arena. I’m very certain that David will take us to another stage as a team and a club itself. He will help us not only for our on-field performances but also the off-field ethics. I count on that our current players will be inspired hugely from David as a player and a person.”

Pocock’s Agent, Brian Levine, says “The playing conditions and scheduling in Japan align perfectly and allow David to be able to seamlessly combine playing in Japan with his commitment to represent all facets of rugby in Australia.”

Pocock made a significant impression on the Australian public by being a standout player in the 2015 Rugby World Cup. His exceptional performance in 2015 granted him the honour of receiving the Brumbies’ Player of the Year award. It was during this season that Pocock earned his 50th Test cap whilst playing a crucial role in the Wallabies’ first Rugby Championship title and Rugby World Cup campaign.

Further to this outstanding achievement, his accolades in Australian professional rugby have been monumental thus far. Through his career, Pocock has earned 55 Test caps for the Wallabies, captained the team (in 2012), received a nomination for the World Rugby Player of the Year award a total of three times (in 2015, 2011 and 2010) and was awarded the coveted John Eales medal in 2010.

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