Pollard to debut in Scotland clash

2014-06-26 00:00

PORT ELIZABETH — The good co-operation between the Springboks and the Baby Boks has played a major role in Handré Pollard’s debut for the Boks against the Scotland here on Saturday.

“The one thing that we have accomplished is that the Springboks and the U20s play the same type of game,” said Bok coach Heyneke Meyer yesterday.

“Many of the calls and movements are the same. We [the Springbok coaching staff] are involved with both teams.”

According to Meyer, the decision to select Pollard had been made easier after he had just led the Baby Boks at the Junior World Cup tournament in New Zealand.

“I am asking a lot from him [Pollard]. He has played a lot of rugby and only flew in on Monday,” said Meyer. “I have discussed it with him, and also thought hard and long about it before selecting him.

“But he is someone I have always trusted. I have followed his career since he has been an U16 player and I have always had a high regard of him.

“He was still a schoolboy when I spoke to Dawie Theron [the coach of the baby Boks]. I said he is good enough to play for the U20 team and he won the 2012 tournament for them.”

Meyer said Pollard has always been part of his group but he could not involve him as a result of his obligations to the young Boks.

“When you look at the world’s best fly-halves, you will see that all of them were 19, 20, or 21 years old when they started playing test rugby,” said Meyer.

“I expect a lot of character from my fly-half. He is the general and must control the game.

“Handré is big, strong and kicks brilliantly. I gave him a chance this week during our first practice session and he was brilliant.

“I then felt that this was the right match to give him the chance to show what he can do.”

Meyer said Johan Goosen has been the logical choice as fly-half but his fitness is still suspect.

With Pollard as the coach’s choice in the starting line-up, Marnitz Boshoff will hope he gets a chance from reserve bench for some playing time.

Meyer said it has always been his plan to give a number of other players the opportunity to play against Scotland.

“I probably would not have made so many changes but we have been forced to do so as a result of circumstances,” he said.

With Morné Steyn, Bryan Habana, Francois Louw, and Gurthrö Steenkamp not available as a result of commitments to their overseas clubs, Pollard, Lwazi Mvovo, Marcell Coetzee, Schalk Burger, Lood de Jager and Coenie Oosthuizen get their chances in the starting line-up.

“I have been criticised because I initially selected such a big group, but my decision has now been justified,” said Meyer.

Injuries to Tendai Mtawarira, Willem Alberts and Flip van der Merwe also necessitated the changes.

Apart from Boshoff, Oupa Mohojé, Stephan Lewies and Marcel van der Merwe will be the new faces on the reserve bench.

• Since 1906, the Boks have been on the winning side 19 times against Scotland. The Scots have won five Tests.

Springboks: Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks, JP Pietersen, Jan Serfontein, Lwazi Mvovo, Handré Pollard, Fourie du Preez, Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger, Marcell Coetzee, Victor Matfield (c), Lood de Jager, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Coenie Oosthuizen.

Substitutes: Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Marcel van der Merwe, Stephan Lewies, Oupa Mohojé, Francois Hougaard, Marnitz Boshoff, Zane Kirchner.

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