Rugby-Pocock set for Wild Knights in Japan after sabbatical

SYDNEY, May 29 (Reuters) - Australia openside flanker David Pocock has signed a three-year contract with Japan's Panasonic Wild Knights, allowing him to return to the ACT Brumbies after a sabbatical in 2017. Pocock had already signed with the Australian Rugby Union through the 2019 World Cup but negotiated a sabbatical for next year. He will join the Wild Knights at the end of the sabbatical -- during which he is planning to study in Britain -- to link up with his former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans in August 2017 for the Japanese club season, the ARU said. The 28-year-old will then return to the Brumbies for the 2018 Super Rugby season before going back to Japan later that year. "Playing with the Wild Knights will hopefully give me a chance to practice new skills and experience a different style of rugby," Pocock told the Australian Rugby Union news website. "They have a proud history with a great playing group." Panasonic have won the last three Top League titles. The Japanese season typically ends during the early rounds of Super Rugby. Pocock is expected to return to the Brumbies for the 2019 competition when his Wild Knights commitments end. Pocock made his debut for Australia in 2008 and has played 55 tests despite missing most of the 2013 and 2014 seasons with knee injuries. | (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Peter Rutherford)