ARU chief desperate to keep Pocock

David Pocock (Gallo)
David Pocock (Gallo)

Sydney - Australian Rugby Union chief Bill Pulver says he is open to star backrower David Pocock taking a sabbatical and is not ruling out any option that allows him to retain top players.

The No 8, who recovered from two knee reconstructions in two years to play a stunning role for Australia at the World Cup last year, is considering a one-year break from rugby to study in England.

A report on Wednesday said he may take off the whole of 2017 before returning in time for the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

His Australian Rugby Union contract expires on December 31 and Pulver said he was keeping an open mind on what might happen next.

"David Pocock is one of the world's best players, if not the world's best player, but suffice to say we are very eager to keep him in Australian rugby," he said on the ARU website late on Wednesday.

"We believe he wants to stay in Australian rugby so those discussions are on-going.

"That is in the mix," he added of a sabbatical.

"I want to make sure I keep the negotiation process with David a private process and we'll inform the world of the outcome when it's done.

"We don't rule anything out, we keep an open mind and we'll work through these situations on a one-to-one basis."

The boss of the breakdown, Pocock's immense value to Australia was never more apparent at the World Cup where he was the Wallabies' best player.

Brumbies CEO Michael Jones has said he hoped the situation over his star performer Pocock would be resolved in the next week to 10 days.

A host of top players have taken-up lucrative overseas contracts in recent times, which makes them ineligible to play for the national team unless they have pulled on a Wallaby jersey more than 60 times and held a professional contract with Australian rugby for at least seven years.

Pulver did not want to see Pocock or up-and-coming younger players follow them.

"I don't want any of our high-profile players leaving the country. The reality is it will happen," he said, adding he was working with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika to create an environment where players want to stay.

"We operate in a sport where markets like France and the UK and Japan, through really outstanding broadcast agreements, have the capacity to pay players and coaches substantially more than we can," he said.

"So we combat that by trying to create an environment here which is such a wonderful environment they want to be a part of it. We think that's what Michael Cheika's doing with the Wallabies."

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