JOHANNESBURG — It is laborious to consider that Handré Pollard is just 24 years outdated, particularly when he addresses the media with such ease and conviction.
However we actually should not be stunned by his maturity, as he made his Springboks debut as a wet-behind-the-ears 20-year-old, contributing 13 factors in a victory over Scotland.
However over the previous 4 years he has tallied solely 26 caps for his nation, as varied accidents have robbed him of fairly a number of extra matches within the inexperienced and gold.
Due to his ridiculous skills, his stop-start profession has been irritating to witness, as a result of each time he will get again into the Springboks’ set-up it looks as if he must ease his approach again earlier than gaining the boldness to exit and win video games.
However there’s a completely different feeling about Pollard going into this large Take a look at sequence in opposition to England. The Bulls No. 10 has been damage free for nearly a yr, and after making his comeback within the Boks set-up within the 2017 Rugby Championship, he is has additionally had a high Tremendous Rugby marketing campaign with the Bulls to date.
There’s a feeling that Pollard can lastly dwell as much as his immense potential and be the overall within the No. 10 jersey to take the Springboks to a brand new degree. However with that comes loads of stress, as a result of the expectation for him to ship is excessive.
Nevertheless, the hype does not appear to trouble Pollard, who led the Junior Springboks to glory in 2012 whereas nonetheless on the varsity benches of Paarl Gymnasium. However he is aware of there’s much more accountability on his shoulders to take cost, and, at 24, be one of many leaders within the crew.
“I feel I’m in a good space. To be honest, I’m just happy to be injury free and 100 percent. It’s not been that way for a couple of years now. I’m glad to be playing week in and week out and I’m feeling confident,” Pollard informed the media on the Springbok crew announcement for Saturday’s first Take a look at at Ellis Park.
“As a 10 there’s all the time stress on you to guide the crew and provides them course. However now we have an incredible bunch of leaders within the crew, pure leaders, equivalent to Siya [Kolisi] our captain, Duane [Vermeulen], Willie [le Roux] and Faf [de Klerk]. They bring about loads of expertise.
“For me it is not concerning the stress, however having that accountability of main the youthful guys in the fitting course. It is nothing new, however I really take pleasure in it.”
The youthful guys within the backline embody debutant wings Aphiwe Dyantyi and S’busiso Nkosi, whereas outdoors centre Lukhanyo Am will make his first begin for the Boks after coming off the bench in his solely Take a look at in opposition to Wales in November.
Pollard, although, is happy about what these gamers can convey to the social gathering following excellent shows in Tremendous Rugby, whereas Nkosi and Am have been constant performers for the Sharks during the last two years.
“Guys like S’bu and Ampie are in unbelievable kind — unbelievable expertise,” Pollard said. “It took us a few days to get to know one another, however I really feel we’re in a extremely good area.
“I’ve been actually impressed with them during the last couple of weeks; the best way they’ve dealt with themselves, their work ethic and what they create to the crew.
“Everyone knows concerning the expertise and the stepping, however they’ve fairly data of the sport as effectively. I am really very assured having them on the again, in addition to Willie along with his expertise. I’ve little question they may do an incredible job.”
Pollard will kind a halfback mixture with former Lions scrumhalf Faf de Klerk. It is going to be the primary time that the 2 play collectively, and the Bulls flyhalf says he really needed to alter to the velocity of the blonde scrumhalf’s service.
However whereas on the Sale Sharks, De Klerk has additionally developed an incredible left boot, which can assist to take a few of the stress off Pollard.
“I have not performed with him earlier than. He clears the ball shortly and is a really harmful man across the ruck. You all the time have to look at him!” Pollard stated.
“What he has discovered in England is the kicking a part of the sport and I believe he has matured rather a lot in that sense. He performs with a composed mindset and I have to say I am actually impressed with him.”
Pollard’s mindset additionally appears strong going into the sport, and South Africans may really see the very best of the flyhalf over a chronic time frame.