Currie Cup

Pollard to help boost Bulls?

2014-10-06 12:13
Handre Pollard (Gallo)

Cape Town - Springbok flyhalf hero Handre Pollard could boost the resurgent Blue Bulls as the Currie Cup reaches its business end.

With the 2014 Rugby Championship now a thing of the past, attention over the next three weeks will shift towards the domestic scene.

This weekend sees the final round of round-robin action before the knockout phases, and while the majority of the Springboks will not take part - as was confirmed earlier in the year - a few Boks could still feature in latter parts of the domestic competition.

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Sunday confirmed that the 20 contracted Springboks will not form part of the latter stages of the Currie Cup. They will instead take part in a training camp in Stellenbosch from October 20-24.

However, there are a few Springboks who are not nationally contracted who could be utilised by their provinces in the run-in to the Currie Cup final on Saturday, October 25.

Of those, Pollard's name immediately catches the eye. The 20-year-old was sublime in last Saturday's 27-25 win over the All Blacks at Ellis Park, scoring two tries as the Boks broke a three-year drought against their old rivals.

The Bulls, who have finally found their groove after a torrid start to the season, would no doubt welcome the opportunity to call on the services of Pollard. They only need a win against Griquas in Pretoria on Saturday (kick-off at 19:10) to secure a semi-final berth.

It would see them face old foes, Western Province (already assured of top spot), in the semi-finals at Newlands on October 18 and having the luxury of picking Pollard would be an added bonus for the men from Pretoria, who lost both their round-robin games to WP in this year's tournament.

It will be interesting to see what transpires this week as Pollard is reportedly struggling with a foot injury and will only be able to train later in the week. However, he should be passed fit for the Currie Cup semi-finals and there's no doubt the Bulls would want to use him.

Maybe SARU will come to some sort of an agreement with the union where Pollard gains some much-needed rest, especially with the Boks set to play four Tests in Europe next month.

Other non-contracted Springboks who will be allowed to return to Currie Cup action this week are Marcel van der Merwe (Blue Bulls), Trevor Nyakane (Cheetahs), Oupa Mohoje (Cheetahs), Warren Whiteley (Lions), Cobus Reinach (Sharks), Lood de Jager (Cheetahs) and Lwazi Mvovo (Sharks).

With SARU indicating all 20 contracted Boks will be in camp in Stellenbosch from October 20-24, it could see somewhat of a strange scenario where a player like centre JJ Engelbrecht will be forced out of Currie Cup action to attend the Springbok camp. Engelbrecht is nationally contracted but has fallen out of favour with the Springboks in recent times, which saw him released to play Currie Cup.

A player like WP centre Damian de Allende - who was recently added to the Springbok contract list - could do with playing Currie Cup rugby. He missed the Boks' June Tests due to a knee injury sustained in Super Rugby and then only played twice in the Rugby Championship. Surely, some much needed game time would do him well?

The decision to let some Boks play Currie Cup has no doubt created a tricky situation for SARU to manage.

Perhaps there should be a ruling which states that a player must at least have played a certain amount of Currie Cup fixtures before being allowed to feature in the knockout stages.

The 36-man Springbok touring squad will be announced on October 26 and will get together in Johannesburg for a pre-departure camp on October 29 before leaving for Dublin on November 1.

The Springboks' end-of-year tour itinerary includes Tests against Ireland in Dublin (November 8), England in London (November 15), Italy in Padova (November 22) and Wales in Cardiff (November 29).

Contracted Springboks:

Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Damian de Allende, Jean de Villiers, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, JJ Engelbrecht, Eben Etzebeth, Cornal Hendricks, Francois Hougaard, Siya Kolisi, Patrick Lambie, Willie le Roux, Victor Matfield, Tendai Mtawarira, Coenie Oosthuizen, Jan Serfontein, Adriaan Strauss, Flip van der Merwe, Duane Vermeulen


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