Mercoledì, 10 Febbraio 2016 07:11 | ARU chief desperate to keep Pocock

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

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

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

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

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

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

"That is in the mix," he added ofa sabbatical.

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

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

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

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

A host of top players have taken-uplucrative overseas contracts in recent times, which makes them ineligible toplay for the national team unless they have pulled on a Wallaby jersey morethan 60 times and held a professional contract with Australian rugby for atleast seven years.

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

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

"We operate in a sport where marketslike France and the UK and Japan, through really outstanding broadcastagreements, have the capacity to pay players and coaches substantially morethan we can," he said.

"So we combat that by trying to createan environment here which is such a wonderful environment they want to be apart of it. We think that's what Michael Cheika's doing with theWallabies."

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