Handre Pollard (Gallo Images)
Birmingham - South Africa flyhalf Handre
Pollard, though still only 21, has been handed a heavy burden by his coach for
Saturday's Rugby World Cup match against Samoa.
Pollard, named World Rugby Junior Player of
the Year for 2014, returns to the starting line-up for his 15th cap after
ceding his place to Pat Lambie for the Springboks' past two outings - their
final World Cup warm-up win over Argentina in Buenos Aires last month and the
34-32 humbling at the hands of Japan last weekend.
"I've said to Handre this game is
going to be won or lost by him," coach Heyneke Meyer said as the
Springboks prepare to pick up their campaign after that wholly unexpected
defeat against Japan in their Pool B opener.
"We all know he is probably the best
attacking number 10 in the world. What he will bring to the attack with
(scrumhalf) Fourie du Preez can be unbelievable. He is an unbelievable prospect
and will be one of the game's true greats.
"I've said to him, 'Handre, when you
won the junior World Cup as a 17-year-old, you played tactically', and that is
what we need from him. The attacking flair is obviously going to be there, but
he has to bring to the party the other parts of his game as well."
Pollard teams up with veteran Du Preez for
only the second time since his debut against Scotland 17 months ago, with the
33-year-old scrumhalf starting a test for the first time since June last year
after battling back from long-term injury.
"It's a horses for courses
approach," Meyer said. "I think it's the right number nine and number
10 combination for this game. Samoa like to attack the number 10 channel and
Handre is one of the best defenders.
"Fourie is a true general and one of
the best rugby minds I've ever coached. He will look after Handre."