Springboks’ Fate Hinges on Handre Pollard’s Return
A Crucial Comeback
The South African rugby team, the Springboks, could see a potential game-changing shift with the return of flyhalf Handre Pollard. Pollard is set to compete against Tonga in the final Pool B match scheduled for Sunday at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille. However, his participation in the game largely depends on his performance during the training sessions of the week. Given that he has played only 40 minutes of rugby this season for the Leicester Tigers due to a calf injury, his fitness is under scrutiny.
The Springboks’ Kicking Crisis
The Springboks’ recent defeat to Ireland, where they missed 11 crucial points off the kicking tee, has raised concerns about the team’s goal-kicking efficiency. The team’s flyhalf, Manie Libbok, and back-up kicker, Faf de Klerk, have struggled with conversions and penalty attempts. Pollard’s return could potentially resolve this issue. However, Springboks’ Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus, has stated that Pollard needs to bring more than just goal-kicking abilities to the table.
Expectations from Pollard
Erasmus has clearly stated that while Pollard’s return could be a solution to the goal-kicking issue, he is expected to exhibit an all-round game. In addition to goal-kicking, Pollard will be expected to tackle, pass, handle kick-offs, sidestep, clean out rucks, and make hand-offs. While recognizing Libbok’s outstanding performance, Erasmus also pointed out that his goal-kicking skills need improvement.
Upcoming Match Against Tonga
In the context of the upcoming match against Tonga, Erasmus has expressed respect for their intense gameplay and the threat posed by their strong individual players. Tonga’s performance in the game will be a significant yardstick to assess Pollard’s recovery and his ability to contribute to the team’s success. The Springboks’ technical team will need to decide whether Pollard’s goal-kicking reliability is worth exchanging for Libbok’s flamboyant skills.
A Balanced Game: The Need of the Hour
While Pollard’s return could potentially augment the Springboks’ goal-kicking efficiency, Erasmus emphasizes the importance of a balanced game. He insists that Pollard’s fitness, form off the kicking tee, and the team’s management’s value of Libbok’s flair and playmaking skills will all be factors in the decision-making process for the upcoming games. Pollard’s physical condition will also be a significant consideration in this regard.
As the Springboks prepare for their final Pool B match against Tonga, the potential return of Handre Pollard could be a game-changing factor. While his goal-kicking skills could be a solution to the team’s current crisis, his overall performance and fitness will be the determining factors in his contribution to the team’s success. The forthcoming match against Tonga will be a significant determinant of Pollard’s readiness and the Springboks’ future trajectory in the tournament.
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