Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Bok stalwarts Pollard and Am to provide World Cup cover despite injuries

Pollard is on the verge of returning to full training with the squad, while Am’s injury could take two to four weeks to get over.

In a bit of a strange twist of fate Springbok stalwarts Handre Pollard and Lukhanyo Am will both be providing injury cover for the 33-man Bok World Cup squad despite being injured themselves.

Pollard, Am and Lood de Jager, who all won the World Cup with the Boks in Japan in 2019, were the three big names left out of the team’s squad announcement on Tuesday afternoon due to various injuries.

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But coach Jacques Nienaber claimed that all three were on the standby list in case of injuries to the main squad, with Pollard and Am traveling along with a five-man injury cover group to the UK for the Boks’ two World Cup warm-ups against Wales and the All Blacks later this month.

Full training

Nienaber explained that Pollard was on the verge of returning to full training with the squad, while Am’s injury could take two to four weeks to get over, but he believed that both could be fit for the start of the World Cup. And if there was an injury in the main squad, they would be able to shift straight in.

“Handre’s rehab has gone well, but he now needs to go through the training of a Test match week and the demands of a Test match week,” said Nienaber.

“He needs to be able to produce on a Saturday and then he has to back it up the next week and the next week. We didn’t want to put him in too early. We don’t want him making it through the first and second weeks, and then he breaks down in the third week.

“So he will be able to start training with us (soon), whereas with Lukhanyo, we think it is a two-to-four-week injury. But it is still very acute. And we will probably get a better gauge at the end of this week how he is doing.

“We believe they both will have the potential to be fit and ready to go by the Scotland game, maybe the week after that.”

Available for selection

Bok captain Siya Kolisi and Ox Nche both haven’t played a game this season due to their injuries, but they were included in the final squad due to being further along in their return to play and with both players being available for the Welsh Test next weekend.

“Handre is different in the sense that he is almost in his return to play and getting back to full fitness, but he hasn’t had a training session with us yet,” explained Nienaber.

“The difference between Siya, Ox and Handre is that Siya and Ox have done training with us and have done the volume and intensity that they must handle in a Test week.

“Unfortunately Handre hasn’t had training with us yet. He will probably start training with us this week. So he can only come into the World Cup squad if there is an injury or a player does something to deselect himself.”