Nelspruit - South Africa Under-20 captain Handré Pollard looks set to link up with the senior Springboks for next Saturday’s Test against Scotland in Port Elizabeth.
The 20-year-old Bulls flyhalf, who was on Friday named IRB Player of the Tournament at the recently completed Junior World Championships in New Zealand – where the Baby Boks lost the final to England – could play off the bench, or even start, in the one-off Test.
First choice No10 Morné Steyn is expected to leave the squad after today’s Test here against Wales to return to his club team, Stade Francais, in France, along with a bunch of other overseas-based Boks. With Steyn unavailable, Bok boss Heyneke Meyer would only have Johan Goosen and Marnitz Boshoff as specialist No 10s to pick from for next weekend’s Test – both of whom missed out on selection this week because of injury.
Pat Lambie, for several years now the Boks’ second choice flyhalf to Steyn, is also still on the injured list.
Meyer told the Saturday Star this week he was concerned about the depth at flyhalf in South Africa. “We’re under pressure at 10,” said Meyer. “I’ve always rated Handré and he’d definitely have been in the squad (for the June Tests) if it wasn’t for the U-20 World Cup. I’m going to bring him into the squad soon.”
Meyer, though, gave no indication it would be this week, but one can accept that if Goosen (knee) and Boshoff (ankle) were still struggling with injuries this weekend, and Steyn heading back to France, there is a strong likelihood Pollard will get a call to join the Boks.
“People must understand we don’t bring players into the Bok squad simply because we want to rotate them. It’s important that some guys come in so they can learn our systems and we can work with them.”
Stand-in Bok captain Victor Matfield said on Friday South Africa would have to “wait and see” if Pollard would play in Port Elizabeth next week.
“I coached him at the Bulls and he’s a fantastic player. I know he’ll play Test rugby for South Africa. He was outstanding at the recent World Championships.
“He’s a special player and a great leader as well. He’s very mature and backs himself to make the calls on the field.”
Pollard has long been viewed as a future Bok No10 having played for the SA U-20 team for the first time in 2012 when he was still a schoolboy at Paarl Gymnasium.
Meyer will name his new-look squad for the Scotland Test on Sunday evening.