Handré Pollard to power up the Boks?

2014-06-22 15:00

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Naas Botha believes Junior Springboks fly half and captain Handré Pollard should be in the senior Springbok side to take on Scotland in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

“He is ready right now,” said the former Springbok and SuperSport analyst who is considered to be the greatest of all the green-and-gold number 10s.

Pollard, who turned 20 in March, was unable to lead the Baby Boks to victory over England in the final of the Junior World Championship in Auckland, New Zealand, on Friday, his side going down 20-21, but he later received some consolation when he was named IRB Junior Player of the Year.

And Botha says Pollard should be blooded at senior level in light of the fact that Morné Steyn’s French club Stade Français have recalled him, thus ruling him out of the Scotland test.

“Handré has an amazing skill set. He is big, fast, handles well, has good vision and has a very mature head on his shoulders. There used to be a bit of a question mark over his goalkicking consistency, but – as shown in the junior championship – he has rectified that.

“Of all the fly halves who might step up, he is the most accomplished runner and it would be a sensible selection with a view to the future,” said Botha.

Johan Goosen came on for Steyn in the Durban test, but when the injury-prone Cheetah was forced off himself, Ruan Pienaar deputised at fly half, a scenario that might convince Heyneke Meyer to call on Pollard to make a quick switch at OR Tambo International Airport and head for Nelson Mandela Bay when the Junior Boks arrive back in South Africa.

Pollard emulated his Blue Bulls team-mate and current Springbok centre Jan Serfontein in being named Junior Payer of the Year.

Serfontein earned the accolade when the Junior Boks won the title in South Africa in 2012 – the tournament in which Pollard announced himself as a rare talent.

The South African schoolboy fly half was still a pupil at Paarl Gimnasium, one of the country’s leading rugby nurseries, when, still only 18, he was called up to the Junior Boks as a replacement for injured current Bulls star Tony Jantjies.

Pollard stepped on to the bigger stage with aplomb and ended up playing a key role in the semifinal and final as the Baby Boks won the title on home soil.

Two other former winners of the Junior Player of the Year award, Aaron Cruden and Julian Savea, have gone on to win caps for the All Blacks.

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