Cape Town - Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has dropped a hint that Handre Pollard could be backed at flyhalf against Ireland on Saturday for his first Test start in over two years.
Pollard last started for the Boks at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England before he missed the whole of 2016 and most of 2017 with injury.
Since his recovery a few months ago, Pollard has played off the bench for the Boks in the Rugby Championship with Elton Jantjies having started all nine Tests for South Africa in 2017.
While Jantjies was impressive in the Tests against France and then the Rugby Championship openers against Argentina, he has come in for some criticism following his showings home and away to Australia and New Zealand.
And, speaking from Dublin on Monday, Coetzee dropped the first real hint that he could be leaning towards backing Pollard ahead of Jantjies for this weekend's clash.
"The question to ask is with Elton being away for a couple of weeks now and not training with us, do I go with Elton or do I go with Pollard who has trained with us?" Coetzee posed.
"That's a decision I've got to make in terms of how well prepared Elton is going to be for the game, versus Pollard who has been with us for three weeks."
Jantjies has been in Japan on club duty with the NTT Shining Arcs and only arrived in Dublin on Monday, while Pollard has been working closely with Bok management for the past few weeks.
Still, Coetzee is pleased with the returns of Jantjies and scrumhalf Ross Cronje so far this year.
"We have struck a great balance," he said.
“Our half-backs have done the job ... Ross Cronje and Elton have really played well.
"They’ve been consistent throughout. Obviously you will get your off day as well, but I’m pleased with how they have gone."
Coetzee will name his side on Thursday afternoon and kick-off on Saturday is at 19:30.