David Pocock

David Pocock. Photo: © Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/NurPhoto via ZUMA Press

Australian rugby great Pocock turns to politics

Former Wallabies captain David Pocock is launching a bid to reach the Australian Senate in next year’s general election.

David Pocock

David Pocock. Photo: © Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/NurPhoto via ZUMA Press

Last year, Pocock announced his retirement from the sport with immediate effect. The flank had represented the Wallabies 83 times across 11 years, but said “the time was right” to hang up his boots.

Pocock left the Brumbies after the end of the 2019 Vodacom Super Rugby season before joining Japanese Top League club, the Panasonic Wild Knights, where he finished the 2019-20 season after Australia’s failed World Cup campaign.

He was set to return to the Wild Knights, but opted to retire to focus on his conservation efforts. He has been studying towards a masters degree in sustainable agriculture and is also working on a regenerative agriculture and community development project in Zimbabwe, the country of his birth.

Pocock has now confirmed he is heading into politics, and is set to stand as an independent in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), which includes Canberra, where he played for seven years with the Brumbies Super Rugby team.

“The reason I’m running as an independent [is] to be able to represent my community and not have to toe a party line that’s out of step with what they want,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“I see the role of independents to be pushing for more climate action because that’s what the community wants because that’s actually in the best interests of Australians economically. I don’t know what that will look like should I be elected to represent the ACT.”


Pocock seeks to facilitate meaningful change

Pocock was outspoken during his playing career on issues such as LGBTQ rights and climate change, rejecting barbs from critics that athletes should stick to sports.

Instead, Pocock said he wanted to use his platform for positive change, challenging homophobic remarks from fellow player Israel Folau and calling for same-sex marriage equality.

He was arrested in 2014 for chaining himself to a digger in a protest against a coal mine being opened in a forest in New South Wales.

The former flanker said his Senate platform would include action on climate, engaging with indigenous Australians and improving the integrity of the country’s political class.

The ACT has two representatives in the Senate, parliament’s upper house, which reviews legislation put forward by lawmakers in the lower house.

Both ACT senators have always come from the ranks of the two major parties — centre-left Labor and the conservative Liberals — meaning Pocock would need unprecedented support to succeed.

No date has yet been set for Australia’s next election, but it is expected to take place by late May 2022.

Additional reporting by AFP