‘It won’t be perfect,’ says Pollard, who wants to ‘enjoy’ Bok return
The Bok No 10 is also fully supportive of the man he is replacing, saying Manie Libbok will 'come right.'
South Africa’s flyhalf Handre Pollard takes part in a training session at the Mayol Stadium in Toulon, southern France, on Thursday. Picture: Clement Mahoudea / AFP
Handre Pollard is aiming to enjoy expressing himself — albeit not perfectly — when he dons the Springbok jersey for the first time in 13 months against Tonga in Marseille on Sunday.
Pollard scored 25 points across the quarter-final against Japan and the semi-final against Wales before scoring 22 as South Africa beat England 32-12 in the final of the World Cup four years ago.
The 29-year-old was initially ruled out of this World Cup in France, but returned to competitive action earlier this month with his English club Leicester before being called up as a replacement for injured hooker Malcolm Marx.
“It’s unbelievable to be back, back in this environment. It’s a special place, a special environment to be part of,” Pollard said.
“Getting a second chance is really nice and is something I’m trying to enjoy every single day.”
Pollard called his injury “tough, frustrating”.
“It was a calf injury that should only have been four weeks, but it ended up being almost three months, it was a very frustrating time but that’s the body, that’s how it works.
“We tried our best to be as fit as early as possible but it just didn’t work out and then of course not getting selected was tough, but such is life.
“They always told us to stay positive and be ready and that’s exactly what I did.”
Pollard did not feature in Saturday’s 13-8 defeat by Ireland but the failure of South Africa’s two goalkickers Manie Libbok and scrumhalf Faf de Klerk in that match increased the calls for the flyhalf’s return to the team.
Need for realism
He gets his chance in their final Pool B match against a physical Tonga side that have been soundly beaten by Ireland and Scotland in their two matches thus far.
A bonus point win against the Tongans in Marseille will all but guarantee the Springboks a place in the last eight.
“I’m going to be realistic about it,” Pollard said of his expectations, going from playing “30 minutes of rugby a few weeks ago to playing Test match in a World Cup is quite a big jump!”
“But I’m confident in the way that we prepare. My expectations for myself is just to enjoy it, express myself, enjoy knowing that it’s not going to be perfect, but getting myself to the next battle.”
Pollard added that he had every confidence in Libbok and the squad’s other kickers.
“There’s a lot of heat on all the kickers for the moment for the last few games, but if you see the amount of work those guys put in every single day, you know that it’s going to come right any day,” he said.
“All the guys kicking in the squad have all had 100% games in the past, even this year. We know we’ve all got it in us. As a kicking unit, we’ve just got to stick together.
“I don’t talk to Manie too much because kicking is a personal thing. Too many voices can become very distracting. I’m always there for him if he needs any help, but he’s in good hands.
“He’s looking good and confident in training and I’m sure it’ll come right.”