SA call up 2019 Rugby World Cup winning fly-half Pollard

Handre Pollard in action for SA. File photo

South Africa Rugby said on Sunday fly-half Handre Pollard had been added to the holders’ World Cup squad giving him a chance to repeat his 2019 heroics.

The 29-year-old replaces injured hooker Malcolm Marx with the inconsistent Manie Libbok the only recognised stand-off in the squad.

Pollard scored 22 points in the Springboks’ 32-12 World Cup final victory over England four years ago and had originally been left out of this squad due to a calf issue.

Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber said he had chosen against bringing in another front-rower with back-rowers Deon Fourie and Marco van Staden offering cover in the No. 2 shirt as well as Bongi Mbonambi.

“We are confident with the cover we have at hooker with Bongi Mbonambi and Deon Fourie, and Marco van Staden has been slotting in the position since our alignment camps in February,” Nienaber said in an SA Rugby statement.

“We opted to call up Handre, who has been in our system for years and who was a member of our team in 2019 when we won the World Cup,” he added.

Pollard played for his English club Leicester Tigers on Friday providing Nienaber with the proof he was fit again.

Full-back Damian Willemse started at fly-half in Sunday’s 76-0 thrashing of Romania but missed two from seven conversions.

Scrum-half Faf de Klerk replaced Willemse in the position on the hour mark in Bordeaux, and converted just two of his four attempts at goal.

The Stormers’ Libbok had been Nienaber’s outside-half until the victory over Romania.

‘Back up to speed’

Despite being named man of the match the 26-year-old missed two penalties and a conversion in last weekend’s 18-3 victory over Scotland, to start the defence of their title.

“We’ll work closely with him in the next week to get him (Pollard) back up to speed and back into the full swing of things,” Nienaber said.

“We have no doubt he’ll step up to the challenge.

“He’s been here before so he knows the physical and mental demands of the World Cup,” he added.

Pollard will join up with the squad on Monday in Paris as they prepare to face world number one side Ireland at the Stade de France on Saturday.

Nienaber names his side for the fixture on Tuesday but is set to be without prop Vincent Koch who suffered a knee injury in the warm-up to the Romania win.

However, he is expected to welcome back Eben Etzebeth after the veteran lock suffered a shoulder injury against Scotland.

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