Rugby Championship

Pollard gets Heyneke's praise

2014-09-13 18:55
Handre Pollard (Gallo Images)

Wellington - Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer knew he had rolled the dice in selecting rookie flyhalf Handre Pollard to play against the All Blacks, but was pleased the 20-year-old had proved he was worth the gamble.

As it happened: All Blacks v Springboks

VIDEO: Cornal Hendricks' fabulous try!

Pollard hardly put a foot wrong in his fourth test, and first against the world champions, driving the Springboks around Wellington Regional Stadium, producing a superb inside pass to set up their only try and providing a solid kicking game.

His only notable blemish was when he was forced onto his weaker left foot and the ball wobbled into touch less than 20 metres from where he had kicked it.

"It was a brave call but I thought he did brilliantly," Meyer told reporters of his flyhalf's performance.

"I'm very happy with all three of our 10s now, it's good to be getting depth there.

"It's going to be very difficult to leave guys out after a performance like this."

Pollard was rushed into the senior Springboks side after leading the Baby Boks to second place in the Under-20 world title in New Zealand earlier this year and immediately impressed on his senior debut against Scotland with 13 points.

He played both games against Argentina but did not play against Australia last week with Meyer instead preferring the veteran Morne Steyn before the coach said he felt with the World Cup just over a year away he wanted to see how Pollard handled the pressure of facing the world champions.

Displaying little in the way of nerves and a maturity beyond his youth, Pollard had a hand in all of the Springboks' points, drawing defenders across field at the second phase of play and then timing an inside pass beautifully to Cornal Hendricks, who had come off the right wing, to score.

Pollard converted and added a second-half drop goal, while he narrowly missed a penalty from 50 metres out, underlining his value as a long-range kicker if needed in tight matches next year at the World Cup.

Meyer was also impressed with his communication and the way the flyhalf and 21-year-old centre Jan Serfontein had been part of a superb defensive effort, marshalled by combative loose forwards Duane Vermeulen and Marcell Coetzee.

"Our defence was immense," Meyer said.

"The All Blacks are an unbelievable attacking unit. They threw it from pillar to post and I thought our guys were superb on defence and were superb at stealing the ball.

"But if you want to win away from home you need some luck and sometimes you need to make your own luck.

"It could have gone either way. All credit to the All Blacks, they're a quality side."


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