Handré Pollard will be part of the Blue Bulls match-22 against the Sharks. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – First he was not going to be part of the Blue Bulls team this weekend, but now Springbok flyhalf Handré Pollard will be.

Bulls coach John Mitchell made it clear earlier this week that his team’s cohesion and progress in terms of their new path and way of doing things, as well as “the growth of ourselves is more important at this minute” in explaining why Pollard and fellow Bok squad member Rudy Paige wouldn’t feature in Saturday’s clash against the Sharks in Durban (3pm kickoff).

But on Thursday, Mitchell had to change tack, drafting in Pollard on the bench due to an injury to utility back Manie Libbok.

The Blue Bulls sent out the following tweet: “Manie Libbok was withdrawn from the squad this morning, due to an issue with his Appendix. He has been replaced by Handré Pollard.”

While it’s still a great pity that Paige won’t play at Kings Park, one would hope that Pollard gets some much-needed game time against the Sharks ahead of the upcoming home leg of the Rugby Championship, having only returned to rugby on the biggest stage of them after several months on the sidelines – for the Springboks against the All Blacks in New Zealand.

At least Sharks coach Robert du Preez acted in the national interest this time around – having also sidelined Curwin Bosch initially following his return from the Bok trip to Argentina – starting both Chiliboy Ralepelle and Daniel du Preez, who were both on tour with the Boks Down Under

New Bok squad member Sbu Nkosi will also turn out for the hosts, but Louis Schreuder has been granted leave to attend a family event.

Teams For Durban

Sharks: 15 Garth April, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Jeremy Ward, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Sbu Nkosi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Ruan Botha (captain), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Thomas du Toit.

Bench: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Jean Droste, 19 Tera Mtembu, 20 Cameron Wright, 21 Tristan Blewett, 22 Rhyno Smith.

Blue Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Duncan Matthews, 13 Burger Odendaal (captain), 12 JT Jackson, 11 Johnny Kotze, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Jano Venter, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Nic de Jager, 5 Aston Fortuin, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Pierre Schoeman.

Bench: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Matthys Basson, 18 Tim Agaba, 19 Marco van Staden, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Handrè Pollard, 22 Ulrich Beyers.


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