Springboks – “It Will Take A Full Team Effort” – Handre Pollard


Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard said on Wednesday it will take a full team effort by South Africa to beat Ireland in Pretoria on Saturday in the first of two Tests against their northern hemisphere arch-rivals, and added that he and his team-mates are excited about the challenge of facing the Six Nations champions on home turf.

Responding to suggestions that he had a particularly vital role to play in the team with the goal-kicking duties resting on his shoulders in the starting team, Pollard said everyone in the team has a massive role to play.

“My responsibility is to drive the team forward and control the game,” said Pollard.

“Rugby is a team sport, and everyone needs to contribute to our team goals. Goal kicking is important, but ideally, we’d like to create opportunities throughout the match to score points. If we can do that and be clinical in our execution, it would be the first prize for us.”

Pollard brushed aside the hype surrounding the fact that the match will see the world champions being pitted a team that has been rated in some circles as the best team on the planet.

“We don’t see things that way,” he said. “For us, this is a Test match, and we are a proud nation that wants to represent the country with pride, and we certainly want to protect our home turf.

“The confidence in the group is good and we’ve prepared well. As a team we are not driven by what happened between the teams in the past, although obviously we’d like to change that. But our focus this weekend is on the task at hand.”

Pollard admitted that while the retirement of former Irish flyhalf Johnny Sexton was a loss to the visiting team, he expected a fresh challenge from Jack Crowley.

“Johnny was massive for them,” said Pollard. “But Crowley has really stepped up to the challenge. He plays to the advantage line, tackles well, and he’s a skilful player, so we’ll definitely have to look after him.”

The experienced Springbok pivot – who needs two points to pass the 700 point-mark in Test rugby – was not in the playing squad during the Springboks’ 13-8 defeat against Ireland during the 2023 Rugby World Cup pool stages in France, but he said one of the main lessons from that encounter was that they had to use their opportunities.

“I was in the stands watching the last Ireland game, and unfortunately we didn’t use all our opportunities in that match,” said Pollard.

“Credit to them, they are a great side. We created chances and the result could have been different, but we’ll take confidence from that.”

The Bok veteran, who started his senior career with the Vodacom Bulls, also looked forward to returning to Loftus Versfeld: “Loftus is a special place and one of the great stadiums in the world to play at. I played there for seven years and there’s always a great atmosphere at the ground, so we are really looking forward to the match.”