Bok coach has faith in captain Pollard, explains Kolisi's absence: 'A plan we want to execute'

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Handre Pollard (Getty)
Handre Pollard (Getty)
  • Siya Kolisi's absence from the second Test between the Springboks and Wales is not rest nor a reaction to some potentially iffy recent form.
  • National mentor Jacques Nienaber states that it's merely part of a broader plan to grant all squad members game time during the series.
  • The Bok coach labels weekend skipper Handre Pollard as a "natural choice", but suggested he might need to replicate some of Kolisi's charisma.

Siya Kolisi's off-weekend for Saturday's second Test between the Springboks and Wales in Bloemfontein can hardly be considered a "luxury". 

National coach Jacques Nienaber made that point plainly clear after installing Handre Pollard as South Africa's skipper for a combination that features an almighty 19 changes.

"It's not a luxury rotational switch," he said.

"We're not giving Siya a rest, we have a plan that we want to execute. We discussed our plan. It's purely a case of having boxes to tick and having a certain idea of how we want to eventually end this series without compromising performance. That's the big challenge."

Last week's narrow 32-29 victory at Loftus has indeed allowed the Boks to implement their plan of using all 42 players in the current national group during this three-match series as the part of their long-term preparation for next year's World Cup in France.

The pedigree of Kolisi invariably means that his absence is a prominent talking point ahead of the match, but there's definitely no doubt among Nienaber and co that Pollard, the loose forward's official deputy, will make his presence felt.

"Handre is a leader," said the Bok mentor.

"He's our vice-captain, so it's a normal role for him. He's definitely a natural choice for this responsibility."

But what exactly are the type of leadership traits an expectant fanbase can expect from the steely, experienced pivot? 

READ | Nienaber rubbishes talk of 'B-team Boks' for Bloem: 'Tell that to Handre or Eben'

"Siya and Handre work well and closely together. They complement each other, not just in terms of one being a forward and the other a back," said Nienaber.

"Siya brings the calmness and authority. Handre brings more detail. I'm not saying Siya isn't detailed, but Handre is perhaps more overtly orientated in that way.

"He'll always be armed with info. He'll know exactly what's everyone's role for a match."

Whether that will prove enough to keep a Wales combination keen to square the series in line is another question.

In fact, Nienaber intimated that Pollard might have to tweak his more business-like approach to the captaincy. 

"Handre will know that he'll have to bring a bit to the party. To be honest, I believe much of that will have to be based on what Siya traditionally brings to a match in terms of leadership." 

Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:05. 

15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Aphelele Fassi, 10 Handre Pollard (captain), 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Thomas du Toit

Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Ruan Nortje, 20 Rynhardt Elstadt, 21 Deon Fourie, 22 Grant Williams, 23 Damian Willemse

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