British & Irish Lions

Pollard: Lions a 'once in a lifetime opportunity' but for now Boks focussed on Georgia

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Handre Pollard
Handre Pollard
Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images
  • Handre Pollard is salivating at the prospect of facing the British and Irish Lions, but knows they have to focus on Georgia first.
  • The Springboks face the Eastern European team in the first of two Tests starting on Friday at Loftus Versfeld.
  • Pollard will be starting at flyhalf.

Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard said they'll have their eye on the "once-in-a-lifetime" British and Irish Lions while ensuring they're also focused on Friday's first Test against Georgia at Loftus Versfeld.

Like most of his teammates, the Test will be Pollard's first since 2 November when they beat England 32-12 in the Rugby World Cup final in Yokohama.

While the Georgia hit-out is a necessary one, especially for a rusty and Covid-19 hit Springbok group, Pollard said they're bubbling with excitement for the Lions tour.

"It's a hard one. We have to be 100 percent focused on Friday's Test at 7pm to face a very physical side in Georgia," Pollard said.

"We're putting our efforts into that, but part of your mind is also looking to the Lions and everything you do is in preparation for that.

"There's no word to describe the excitement of playing the Lions and we're happy that it could happen. It is a once in a life-time opportunity.

"We're of similar age in the squad, we've grown up together, watched the 2009 series and got a lot of inspiration from that. We've now got the possibility of facing the Lions."

The Lions, coached by New Zealander Warren Gatland and now captained by crack Irish halfback Conor Murray, have landed in South Africa.

Murray replaced veteran Welsh lock Alun Wyn Jones, who sustained a shoulder injury in Saturday's 28-10 win against Japan in Edinburgh.

Pollard said they were not surprised by how the Lions played, but he expects them to get better as the tour progressed.

The Lions kickstart their tour with a date against their South African namesakes at Ellis Park on Saturday before facing the Sharks at the same venue on 7 July.

"It was difficult to say to be honest. The Lions game was what we expected it to be in certain areas," Pollard said.

"It was only their first game and as a squad, they still have a lot to improve on. They'll get better with each week.

"They've got the class though and they have star players across the park, so we'll take as much as we can from that game. Japan tried their best, but the Lions were better."

Teams:

South Africa

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Rosko Specman, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Aphelele Fassi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Kwagga Smith, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche

Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse

Georgia

TBA

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