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Pocock signs deal with Japanese club

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 29/05/2016 Adrian Warren

Wallabies star David Pocock has secured a three-season deal with Japanese Top League champions Panasonic Wild Knights which also keeps him in Australian rugby and ensures he gets a rest leading up to the 2019 World Cup.

Australia's 2015 World Cup hero will commence playing for the Wild Knights - who are coached by New Zealander Robbie Deans - following the conclusion of the Wallabies' spring tour to Europe in December this year.

From February 2017, Pocock will take a six-month sabbatical away from the game to pursue study and interests outside of rugby.

In mid-August 2017 he heads into a heavy schedule by resuming with the Wild Knights for his second Top League season before returning to the Brumbies for Super Rugby in 2018 and 2019, knowing he can also expect to play a hefty Wallabies schedule in those years.

The 28-year-old back rower will then skip the 2018-19 Top League season to enjoy a much-needed off-season ahead of the 2019 World Cup before completing his deal with the Wild Knights after the World Cup.

It's a schedule nutted out with the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) as well as the Wild Knights.

"I really appreciate the opportunity the ARU have offered me to stay in the Australian rugby union set up," said Pocock said in a statement confirming his deal on Sunday.

"My goal is to continue to improve and be at my best in 2019."

Deans apart, Pocock is set to link up at the Wild Knights with another person with Wallabies connections in former Test five-eighth Berrick Barnes.

"I'm really looking forward to working with Robbie (Deans) and Berrick again," Pocock said.

"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."

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