Pol­lard gets a chance to re­mind SA what he’s got

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - VATA NGOB­ENI

IT’S BEEN a year and seven months since Spring­bok fly­half Han­dre Pol­lard last played in­ter­na­tional rugby and to­mor­row night’s game against the French Bar­bar­ians at Or­lando Sta­dium will mark his re­turn in an ef­fort to re­claim his place in the Spring­bok team.

The 23-year-old Pol­lard will be af­forded a cameo ap­pear­ance for the SA ‘A’ side off the bench af­ter hav­ing last played for the Spring­boks at the 2015 Rugby World Cup but Pol­lard will have to play him­self back into the reck­on­ing af­ter Spring­bok in­cum­bent El­ton Jan­tjies’ stellar per­for­mances against France in the last two Tests.

While Spring­bok coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee is ea­ger to build up his fly­half re­serves, SA ‘A’ coach Jo­han Ack­er­mann said the most im­por­tant as­pect of Pol­lard’s re­turn from in­jury will be to mea­sure his sharp­ness against in­ter­na­tional op­po­si­tion. Pol­lard’s ab­sence last year and for some parts of this year’s Su­per Rugby cam­paign for the Bulls due to in­juries, has left the Spring­boks thin at pivot with Patrick Lambie also suf­fer­ing long term in­juries.

“I’ve got that free­dom to de­cide how long we need him to play,” said Ack­er­mann of Pol­lard’s par­tic­i­pa­tion to­mor­row night.

“We’ll ob­vi­ously give Fred (Zeilinga) a fair op­por­tu­nity, he was pa­tient last week and only got 20 min­utes. The whole idea from Al­lis­ter and Saru’s side is to see where Han­dre is.

“I don’t think it is about the amount of time but rather about get­ting him back onto the field and test­ing him against in­ter­na­tional op­po­si­tion.

“I also want to be fair to him and I can’t see him get­ting less than 20 min­utes.”

Along with the change at fly­half, where South­ern Kings fly­half Lionel Cronje finds him­self out of the match­day 23 af­ter start­ing last week, Ack­er­mann has made whole­sale changes to his team in or­der to give all his squad mem­bers a fair run.

Fran­cois Ven­ter will lead the team and will form a new mid­field pair­ing with Spring­bok cen­tre Lionel Mapoe, while Ack­er­mann has picked an ex­cit­ing back three with War­rick Ge­lant start­ing at full­back and speed­sters Lwazi Mvovo and Se­abelo Se­natla on the wings.

Ack­er­mann has also had to play mu­si­cal chairs with his pack of for­wards and has gone for the ex­cit­ing loose-trio com­bi­na­tion of Andisa Nt­sila, Chris Cloete and Sikhum­buzo Not­she.

Ruan Botha will form a for­mi­da­ble sec­ond row part­ner­ship with Bulls lock Ja­son Jenk­ins, while Ack­er­mann has cho­sen a pow­er­ful fron­trow that in­cludes Test capped Trevor Nyakane at tight­head, hooker Ra­mone Sa­muels and the ex­cit­ing Ox Nche at loose­head prop.

“My com­mit­ment to the play­ers was that ev­ery­one will play and every guy will ro­tate ... It is still a qual­ity team and hope­fully with changes it brings ex­cite­ment be­cause there are play­ers look­ing for­ward to run­ning out in the start­ing 15,” Ack­er­mann said.

SOUTH AFRICA ‘A’: War­rick Ge­lant, Lwazi Mvovo, Lionel Mapoe, Fran­cois Ven­ter (capt), Se­abelo Se­natla, Fred Zeilinga, De­waldt Du­ve­nage, Andisa Nt­sila, Sikhum­buzo Not­she, Chris Cloete, Ruan Botha, Ja­son Jenk­ins, Trevor Nyakane, Ra­mone Sa­muels, Ox Nche; RE­PLACE­MENTS: Franco Marais, Thomas du Toit, Wilco Louw, Uzair Cassiem, Ruan Ack­er­mann, Jano Ver­maak, Han­dre Pol­lard, Juan de Jongh

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