Pollard ready for new Ireland general, Crowley

Damian de Allende and Handre Pollard (centre) during Springbok training as they prepare to face Ireland on Saturday. | BackpagePix

Damian de Allende and Handre Pollard (centre) during Springbok training as they prepare to face Ireland on Saturday. | BackpagePix

Published Jul 4, 2024


THERE’S no role bigger than the other in the Springboks team, according to Handre Pollard, who is only focusing on executing his duties to put the team in the best possible position from where they can score points to claim a victory over Ireland.

Pollard is in the saddle as flyhalf for this weekend’s first of two Tests against the visitors, with the two-time World Cup winner returning to Loftus Versfeld where he started his career.

He played a crucial role in both of those Webb Ellis Cup wins, especially with his kicking boot, and things will be the same on Saturday against the Irish (kick-off 5pm).

The 30-year-old missed the last outing against the number two-ranked side at last year’s World Cup in France after being drafted into the squad late and only joined the Boks for the final pool match against Tonga. He then led them to victory with his kicks at goal in all three knockout matches.

In that pressure-cooker pool game in Paris that the Irish won 13-8, South Africa missed 11 points off the tee and squandered various scoring opportunities.

While Pollard believes chances for points will be limited for both sides this weekend, he wants to see the Boks strike when they are within distance. The world champions started the season with a convincing win over Wales two weeks ago, and a second victory in as many games will be a huge confidence boost ahead of the rest of the year.

“We’ve got to focus to give ourselves those opportunities (to score points) because if we don’t use them, there won’t be any kicks at goal anyway,” Pollard said.

“We know the opportunities are there, it was there in Paris as well, we just have to be a little more composed and try and get something out of every 22m entry we make. There won’t be a lot (of chances) for both teams. Whenever you get that shot, you have to be clinical.

“I don’t think there will be any scars from Paris. The boys came very close because we had opportunities to put them away. We are back at home now and will look to change that.”

There has been plenty of focus on the Irish flyhalves this week with the Boks set to face a new general after the retirement of Jonny Sexton after the World Cup.

Pollard said Sexton was massive for Ireland, but new flyhalf Kieran Crowley brings something different to the side.

“They needed someone to fill that role and Crowley really stepped up. He controls the game well and takes the ball up to the line well. So he will be a threat. We will try to look after him as best as we can.

“My responsibility will be to drive the team forward and to ensure we play in the right areas of the field and control the game. Everybody has their thing to do and I don’t think one role (in the team) is more important than the other.”

According to Pollard, attack coach Tony Brown has been a real breath of fresh air for the side and he would love to play a bit more on the gain line if that is where Brown sees them going.

Brown said earlier this week that he wants to get the flyhalf back to the attacking power he was when he played for the Junior Springboks years ago.

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