Pocock has returned to light training duties this week ahead of the ACT Brumbies’ crucial clash against his former club, the Western Force, at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night.
The champion Wallaby hasn’t played since fracturing his eye socket in the opening test against England at the start of June.
However, the new headgear with a protective pad that wraps around onto the front of Pocock’s face, could help him make an earlier-than-expected return.
Pocock was told he would miss at least six weeks when he suffered the injury and surgery was delayed after he was told he risked further damage if he flew back to Canberra.
The Brumbies need to beat the Force by three tries or more to secure a bonus-point win and their place in the finals.
Pocock’s surprise return would be a massive boost for the Brumbies after losing to the Auckland Blues last weekend and winger Joseph Tomane suffering a season-ending leg injury.
Pocock would need a medical clearance before starting contact training and being available to play the Force.
Even if he is unavailable, the Brumbies will be buoyed by the inclusion of Scott Fardy, who returned from New Zealand battered, bloodied and bruised.
Fardy has been eased back into training after suffering a head knock and a shoulder problem and is set to be named in the squad to play the Force.
The Brumbies are intent on reversing their final-round woes to make sure they cruise through to the finals and give themselves a chance to chase a championship.
The Brumbies have won just two games in the past decade in the last round – in 2014 and 2007.
Prop Ben Alexander, who signed a new 12-month contract on Wednesday, has won only one last round game in his 129-game Brumbies career.
But he was confident the team was well positioned to clinch a finals spot and set their sights in relaunching their title ambitions.
“The last game of the season hasn’t been our strong point… we know we’ve got to work hard and the Force have fought hard all year,” Alexander said.
“But we’re concentrating on us and making sure the team starts a lot better than it has in the last two weeks.
“It’s really good to get that [contract] done and it’s good to be here another year. We’re in the driver’s seat in the Australian conference but we’ve got a lot of work to do this weekend.
“Guys, especially at my age, play footy to win titles. We’ve got a really good squad for next year even if some big names are moving; there’s still a good feeling that we can get some results.”
Back-rower Jordan Smiler is still racing the clock to be back before the end of the season after injuring his knee at the world club 10s tournament in Mauritius.
If Pocock and Smiler are unable to play against the Force, Jarrad Butler and Michael Wells are set to keep their starting spots.
They will clash against future teammate Chris Alcock, who is set to join the Brumbies next year to fill Pocock’s sizeable shoes when he takes a 12-month sabbatical from rugby.
Alcock’s Force teammate Kyle Godwin is also poised to join the Brumbies as a star recruit to boost the squad for next year.
“Last weekend was a disappointing week for a lot of teams, but as far as we’re concerned we’re looking forward and hoping to put in another good performance,” Butler said.
BRUMBIES FINALS SCENARIOS
– If the Waratahs lose to the Blues by more than seven points, the Brumbies will advance to the play-offs regardless of their result against the Force.
– If the Waratahs lose to the Blues by fewer than seven points, the Brumbies will need to either beat the Force or lose by fewer than seven points as well.
– If the Waratahs beat the Blues, the Brumbies need to beat the Force.
– If the Waratahs secure a bonus point triumph, the Brumbies need to do the same against the Force.
– Canberra Times