Ex-Wallaby captain Pocock gives up rugby for conservation

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David Pocock (Getty)
David Pocock (Getty)

Australian great David Pocock called time on his rugby career on Friday, opting against returning to Japan and the Panasonic Wild Knights to pursue his interest in conservation.

The 32-year-old flanker, considered a master of the breakdown, has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, but said it was not the reason for his decision.

"It's been a tough decision, but it really feels like the right time to step away from playing rugby and move onto other things," he told state broadcaster ABC.

"Author Rob Bell once said: 'You can leave when it feels like a graduation, or you can hang in there and leave when it feels like a divorce.'

"I'm hoping it's still going to feel like a graduation, but no doubt, like with any life transition, there's going to be some challenges."

Pocock quit international rugby after last year's World Cup in Japan, pointing to the rise of young Australian back-rowers such as Liam Wright and Rob Valetini as part of his reason to retire.

He played for the Brumbies and Western Force in Super Rugby between 2006 and 2019 before a swansong with the Wild Knights in Japan.

A formidable ball-poacher and turnover specialist, he wore the green and gold of Australia for 11 years and was one of their stars at the 2011 World Cup and again in 2015, when they reached the final.

"I think when you think back it's often little moments with team-mates or special times with family around games that really stand out," he said.

Born in Zimbabwe, Pocock started playing rugby as an eight-year-old before his family fled the African nation and moved to Brisbane when Robert Mugabe's government enforced radical land seizures.

He has long had an interest in conservation issues and said he planned to work on a project in Zimbabwe.

"It's kind of regenerative agriculture meets community development and conservation," he said.

"We're starting to make some progress with that and I'll hopefully head over there once things settle a bit and get stuck in."

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