Springboks

Bok coach explains Handre Pollard omission: 'There is nothing sinister'

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Handre Pollard (Getty)
Handre Pollard (Getty)
  • Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has explained Handre Pollard's omission from the first Test against Wales on Saturday. 
  • Elton Jantjies will wear the No 10 jersey as he plays his 45th Test. 
  • Pollard only joined up with the Springbok squad on Monday. 

There is nothing "sinister" nor inflexible about Handre Pollard missing the Springboks' first of three Tests against Wales at Loftus on Saturday.

That was national coach Jacques Nienaber's cagey assurance on Tuesday after announcing his match-day squad for the encounter, who even suggested Pollard was simply as unlucky as any other squad member not to be picked.

The World Cup-winning first-choice pivot was, to be fair, expected to be a doubtful starter because he was still helping guide Montpellier to the French Top14 title last weekend.

"He flew out on Saturday and arrived in camp on Sunday, so yes, he probably could've played," said Nienaber.

"Why is he not in the 23? I suppose you can ask that of a lot of players. To be honest, there are certain boxes that we want to tick. 

"There are plans for all 42 guys that are in camp with us. We've been open with them, and they know what our plan is.

"Obviously, the plan can change when there's a change in performance, when a player didn't play to expectations, or there's an injury.

"Hopefully, our plan will come to fruition over the next three weeks."

That would suggest that Nienaber and co had indeed targeted Saturday's match as an ideal opportunity to hand Elton Jantjies, a 44-Test veteran himself, an opportunity to stake a more extended claim on the No 10 jersey.

After all, Nienaber regularly referred back to 2022's campaign being about balancing momentum with rejuvenation.

He emphatically stated though that Pollard wasn't the "victim" of the Bok setup's general rule that only players who trained on the Monday of a relevant match-week are eligible for selection.

"We want to select a player we coached during the week. If we didn't coach a guy on a Monday, but another guy though, we just feel that the coaching and information they guy that did train, puts himself in a better condition [for selection]," said Nienaber.

"There's nothing sinister about that."

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