Year for silverware – Pollard
Bulls’ pivot buoyant on making his return after an injury-ruined 2016
SPRINGBOK and Bulls flyhalf Handré Pollard is ready to be unleashed after injuries kept him out of the game for the whole of last year and is likely to lead the Bulls in their Super Rugby opener against the Stormers at Newlands next month.
The 22-year-old won’t be a welcome sight for the Stormers but looking at the bigger picture, Springbok coach Allister Coetzee, along with Bulls coach Nollis Marais, will be crossing fingers that Pollard stays fit if their respective teams are to be successful this year.
Pollard’s year-long absence from rugby not only hindered the Bulls’ chances of making last year’s Super Rugby play-offs but it would also have had an adverse effect on how the Springboks played.
With most of the Bulls players a year older and wiser in the workings of Super Rugby, the addition of Pollard will strengthen their cause in their bid to make the play-offs and even challenge for the title.
His presence will be made more significant by his leadership qualities which will make him a strong contender to lead both the Bulls and Springboks this year.
While Pollard will face stiff competition from Hanro Liebenberg for the Bulls captaincy in the absence of Adriaan Strauss, who is set to miss the first three games of the season as he recovers from a back operation, Pollard has also been touted as a possible successor to Strauss in the national team as well.
However, Pollard has downplayed his possible leadership roles in the Bulls and Springbok teams and says his primary focus is to ensure he is a better player than he was before his shoulder and knee injuries.
“My priority is to get back onto the field and nothing about the captaincy. First I want to get back into the Bulls team and take it from there,” Pollard said.
Prior to Pollard’s injuries at the beginning of last year, the former World Junior Player of the Year was firmly in the saddle as the Springbok pivot and had started ahead of Patrick Lambie and Elton Jantjies.
What will be a scary thought for both Lambie and Jantjies will be Pollard’s positive thinking – that he should return a better person and player considering he’s had a year to ponder on his career.
“I think you can always improve. Even the day before you are done, you can always improve. I have learnt a lot of off-the-field stuff in the past year and that is a big part of rugby, not just the stuff that happens on the field. It’s the way you can handle stuff off the field. I’ve matured and hopefully it translates into my game.”
And Pollard will be the Bulls’ go-to man for Super Rugby as Marais’ side face their toughest season yet as they play against the New Zealand conference.
Pollard believes this is the year the Bulls need to make their mark in the competition.
“This will be very big. We’ve been planning and building for the last three years. The building is done and it is time we start performing, getting into finals and winning trophies. It’s a young group of guys but we’ve played a lot of rugby. They understand what it’s about and there are a few senior players who can lead us in the right direction.
“It’s time we start winning trophies,” said Pollard. FIT AGAIN: Handré Pollard, the Bulls’ go-to man, is raring to go after a nightmare year battling niggling injuries.