Pour combler le forfait de leur talonneur Malcolm Marx, les Springboks ont finalement appelé dimanche 17 septembre, un ouvreur, Handré Pollard, réserviste de choix, prépondérant dans l’obtention de leur titre mondial en 2019.
In the art of innovation and going against the grain, the South Africans have truly outperformed their competition in recent weeks. From their use of a seven-forward bench against New Zealand (35-7) in the final preparation at Twickenham, to using colored headlights in the stands to communicate instructions, they have now replaced an injured hooker with a… fly-half, specifically former Montpellier player Handré Pollard.
« We are trying out many things, and they are working well for now, » smiled Deon Fourie, the replacement hooker on Sunday against Romania (76-0), before finishing as a flanker, showcasing the versatility that reigns supreme in the rainbow nation during this World Cup.
For several days, the possibility of Pollard replacing the specialist hooker Joseph Dweba has been discussed. This decision was expected, considering that the coach Jacques Nienaber had only included one trained fly-half, Manie Libbok, in his group of 33 players. Libbok is not the most reliable when it comes to kicking goals, which is where Pollard, who will join his teammates in Paris on Monday, brings a sense of security, especially in important matches.
If Marx had not been injured…
« Il a été rappelé par Nienaber que nous avons décidé de contacter Handré, qui fait partie de notre système depuis de nombreuses années et qui était membre de notre équipe en 2019 lorsque nous avons remporté la Coupe du monde. »
In Japan, Pollard (29 years old, 68 appearances) scored 25 points in the quarter-finals against the host country and in the semi-finals against the Welsh, before adding 22 out of the 32 points in the final against England (32-12).
Pas sûr toutefois que Pollard, non retenu initialement en raison d’une blessure au mollet contractée cet été et qui n’a repris officiellement la compétition qu’il y a deux jours avec son nouveau club de Leicester tout en donnant quelques garanties, ne soit lancé dans le grand bain dès samedi lors du choc suprême pour la première place du groupe B contre l’Irlande.
His time should rather come against Tonga in the Springboks’ last pool match just before the quarter-finals.
On Sunday against the Romanians, Damian Willemse, who usually plays as a fullback, and Faf De Klerk, considered one of the best scrum-halves in the world, took turns at the fly-half position, with both of them missing two conversions each.
But one question remained among the Springboks’ followers after this announcement: without Malcolm Marx’s injury, which ultimately falls well, how could Pollard have strengthened the world champions who have two slightly injured players, second-row Eben Etzebeth, who is shoulder injured, and right prop Vincent Koch, who did not start as planned against the Oaks due to a knee discomfort during warm-up?