David Pocock's Limerick training story shows he was always going to make it
"A pretty cool story. The Murrays are so nice."
David Pocock may have just recruited a couple of hardy bucks to help him out on the farm, back in his native Zimbabwe.
The former Wallabies flanker is doing his part for the environment, and then some. At present - as he talks with Seán O'Brien and Alex Goode on House of Rugby - he is taking a break from his farming work to promote a show called ‘Playing Against The Clock’ on BT Sport [more on that, later].
Pocock and his family emigrated to Australia when he was young, as many white landowners had their properties taken away by the new government. Two decades later, he is back home and working with rural farmers on livestock management. The aim is to restore damaged rangelands and set up a new 170,000 wildlife area.
After recruiting O'Brien and Goode to do some hard yakka over their summer holidays, next year [O'Brien is on fencing duties], the Australian rugby legend delved into some stories from his playing days. That included the joys of playing with Quade Cooper and Kurtley Beale, and his schoolboys rugby trip to Ireland, in 2005.
Back in 2018, as Ireland wrapped up their three-Test tour Down Under, Pocock shared a class post-match snap from the Wallabies' dressing room.
In 2005 on the Australian Schoolboys tour of UK and Ireland we were billeted out with families in Limerick. The family I was billeted with: the Murrays. I don't think @ConorMurray_9 or I were thinking we'd go on to face each other in test rugby. Great to catch up after the game. pic.twitter.com/MRF9BRsQY0
— David Pocock (@pocockdavid) June 24, 2018
There, 13 years after they first met, Pocock sat in an Ireland jersey and posed for a snap with scrumhalf Conor Murray. The Limerick native was a year younger when Pocock was billeted with his family, but he too was already making a name for himself in Munster schools cup rugby.
On House of Rugby [LISTEN from 4:00 below], David Pocock shared a training story from Limerick that shows he was always going to make it in the rugby big-time.
"I got horrendously lost," recalls David Pocock
Pocock was crazily driven to succeed in rugby from a young age. He showed promise in the sport as a youngster in Zimbabwe and says his dream, growing up, was to one day play for the Springboks.
That drive did not let up in Oz and, aged 17, he formed part of a crack Australia Schoolboys squad that included Beale, Lachie Turner, Ben McCalman and Christian Leali'ifano. The Aussies hammered Ireland U19s by 33 points in one tour game.
A Munster selection gave them a slightly closer run, down in Limerick. Pocock did not play in the game, but his time in the city won't soon be forgotten, all thanks to an impromptu training session.
"I didn't play that midweek game against Munster," he recalls. "Mr Murray picked us up from the ground and was driving us home. I was feeling a bit guilty from having not played, and wanted to do a bit of extra fitness work. So I asked him, 'Would you mind just dropping me five kilometres from your home?' He did.
"In hindsight, though, I had only been to their house once and I had no idea where I was going, or how I thought I was going to get to their house. And I just got horrendously lost.
"Eventually it got dark, I'd been chased by an Alsatian. I was just thinking, 'This is done!' It was before everyone had mobile phones, so I just walked into a random person's house and said, 'Listen, I'm terribly lost. I'm staying with the Murrays. I don't know where they are.'
"Luckily, she knew the family. She ended up giving Mr Murray a call, he came around to pick me up and everything ended up all right."
That story of Pocock - going for a 5km run just because he missed out on some game-time - sums up an attitude that saw him made his Test debut at the age of just 20. His work ethic was famously captured in a class documentary called 'True Grit', which we'd highly recommend.
Alex Goode recalls scary first encounter with David Pocock
Goode recalls coming up against David Pocock and that fearsome Australia Schoolboys side, and still wakes up in cold sweats thinking about it.
"You absolutely demolished us," he says. "It was yourself, Kurtley Beale and Quade Cooper just taking the piss out of us!
"It was those older days of rugby where the teams would all have to hop in the baths together, after a match. I just remember all of us looking at you, going, 'Look at him, he's all triangles!' There was just muscles everywhere."
Pocock smiles as he thinks back about that Australia vs. England clash, 16 years ago.
"Something just clicked with Kurtley and Quade. They were on fire. They were doing consecutive chip-and-chases, and all sorts of ridiculous stuff!"
Goode will never forget the sight of Beale and Cooper doing one-two passes all the way down the pitch on their way to another Aussie try. Never has one game drove a team of young rugby players to the gym quicker.
Playing Against The Clock is hosted by BT Sport's Craig Doyle and includes David Pocock and his wife Emma as guests, along with Martin Offiah and Ledley King. The show focusses on the fight against climate change and the duty of sport to be sustainable.
BT Sport will premiere Playing Against the Clock on October 31 on BT Sport 1 at 6pm, part of a BT Sport focus on sustainability to inform and inspire viewers on the climate emergency. To sign up to BT Sport’s Green Routine and make a change visit btsport.com/greenroutine. For more on BT’s work to fight climate change, visit: www.bt.com/sustainability
WATCH THAT FULL DAVID POCK CHAT HERE: