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Breakdown again looms as most important Bledisloe clash

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James Mortimer     09 Aug 2012     Getty Images

Pocock is not the only breakdown specialist in the Wallabies squad for The Investec Rugby Championship, with young tyros Liam Gill and Michael Hooper potential wildcard options for coach Robbie Deans.

The former Crusaders mentor admitted that the inclusion of the Australian Under-20 stars was to ensure that there was cover for Pocock, whose influence on the Wallabies play has become immense.

Pocock has rarely, if ever, talked up a personal battle with the All Blacks captain, and the 24-year-old denied it again when asked in the Wallabies camp.

"It's always built up as a big clash between the sevens," he said.

"I think it's about each team being effective at the breakdown and not allowing the opposition to have access to that area.  It's really a team focus and I guess whichever loose forward trio manages to influence the breakdown the most then you judge it on that."

Who partners Pocock in the Wallabies back row is still uncertain, although the selection of cult hero Radike Samo could indicate an explosive approach from the Austrailans, but Dave Dennis and Scott Higginbotham would be the players picked on Investec Super Rugby form.

Messam's heroics with the Chiefs and in the third Steinlager Series test hasn't gone unnoticed by the All Blacks selecters, and with Steve Hansen a big fan of form, could start at blindside for the World Champions.

With Kieran Read and McCaw to round out the trio, the only question mark for the All Blacks is how, or if, they want to utilise the backup talents of Sam Cane, Adam Thomson and Victor Vito.

In what was perhaps a hint that the Wallabies could play Gill or Hooper in their starting back row, Pocock said that there was depth at openside for both countries.

"Cane has been impressive all season in Super rugby and against the Irish he made the most of it," Pocock said.

"It's a good headache to have as a selector. Australia and New Zealand both have a number of sevens we can use however we want to."

While the breakdown area was important, Wallabies coach Robbie Deans felt that again the All Blacks would centre on two of his former pupils.

"We know Richie McCaw and Dan Carter are instrumental in the way they structure their game and obviously deliver it," he said.

"So I don't see enormous change (in their play) but obviously there will be some subtle change.