Bok flyhalf Pollard to take a big jump against Tonga

29 September 2023 - 16:42 By LIAM DEL CARME IN MARSEILLE
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Springboks flyhalf Handre Pollard. File image
Springboks flyhalf Handre Pollard. File image
Image: Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images

Handrè Pollard admits playing a Test with just 30 minutes of rugby under his belt since returning from injury is a big jump. 

Pollard makes his much-publicised return to the Springbok team when they take on Tonga in a Rugby World Cup pool B match at the Stade Velodrome on Sunday. 

Victory with a bonus point should seal their place in the quarterfinals of the competition.

 Short of a gallop, the experienced flyhalf is going into the clash with eyes wide open.  

“I am going to be realistic about it,” said Pollard.

“Having played 30 minutes of Prem Cup rugby [Premiership Rugby Cup] a few weeks ago to playing a Test match in a World Cup is quite a big jump. 

“I’m confident in the way we prepare. My expectations for myself is going to be to express myself and enjoy it knowing it’s not going to be perfect.” 

Pollard is thankful to be back in the Boks environment after a “tough” and “frustrating” time on the sidelines.  

“Getting a second chance is nice, something I’m going to try to enjoy every day. It was a calf injury that should have only been about four weeks [on the sidelines] but ended up being almost three months. 

“It was a frustrating time, but that’s the body, that’s how it works. We tried our best to be fit as soon as possible but it didn’t work out.

“Not getting selected [in the initial Springbok 33-man squad] was tough, but such is life. They [the coaches] told us to stay positive and be ready, and that is exactly what I did.” 

He steps into a position that has been the subject of much speculation over the past while.  

Manie Libbok as an agent of change has done wonders to the Boks attack, but his goal kicking has not measured up to expectation. 

“It is an interesting one. There was a lot of heat on the kickers for the past few games, but if you see the amount of work those guys put in every day you would know it is going to come right any day. 

“I don’t speak to Manie much about it because I know it is a personal thing, kicking. [If] there’s too many voices it can be distracting. I am there for him if he needs help, but he is in good hands and he is looking good and confident in training so I’m sure it will come right.” 

Libbok has given the Boks more variety and cutting edge in their attack and Pollard will hope to continue in that vein.  

“It’s been exciting watching the boys go at it the past 12 months. They have put another layer on their game. We know our set-piece, our defence and our kicking game is always going to be the base of our game, 80% of it is going to be that. 

“But we’re sprinkling on some nice attack, some nice opportunities now. It’s not a big change at all, just a small mindset change for the team. 

“It is exciting because the kicking game, defence and set-piece can take you a long way but if you want to win World Cups back-to-back you need that something extra and I think we’ve got it now.” 

Pollard said the Boks need to grow more comfortable with what they are doing and find improvement every week. 

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