Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Pollard back for the Boks after Marx injury blow

Jacques Nienaber admitted he was happy with the cover that they have at hooker, leading to Pollard being called up.

Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard is back in the World Cup squad after the Bok management opted to call him into the squad as injury replacement for hooker Malcolm Marx who was ruled out of the tournament with a serious knee injury earlier in the week.

There had been a lot of speculation over the past few days on who would be called into the squad, as it had always been expected that Pollard would be first in line, however with hooker being a specialist position and the Boks being a little thin there Joseph Dweba came into the mix.

ALSO READ: Why settling on a Bok replacement for Marx is not so straightforward

However in the end coach Jacques Nienaber admitted he was happy with the cover that they have at hooker, leading to Pollard getting the nod.

“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,” said Nienaber.

“So 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’s been working hard to return to full fitness, and we are pleased that he now has some game time under his belt for his club, and this will allow him to slot back into the team.”

Major gamble

 Despite the management seemingly being happy it is still a major gamble as Fourie is considered a flank now and made his first appearance at hooker in five years in the second half against Romania on Sunday.

Van Staden also featured at hooker in the match, throwing in and packing down with it looking like both players got 20 minutes each in the position.

Although they seemed fine, it was against a poor Romanian team and the real test for Fourie will come in the coming clash against Ireland, which should also show what impact it will have on the bomb squad.

It will also be interesting to see what impact Pollard coming in has on current first choice Manie Libbok, who despite his kicking struggles has been playing extremely well in all other facets of the game.

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