Herman Mostert

A fit, firing Pollard vital to Springbok cause

2017-02-23 12:00
Herman Mostert

Following the retirement of Adriaan Strauss at the end of 2016, the Springboks will be looking for a new leader in 2017.

For the moment, indications are that there won’t be a search for a new coach, with Allister Coetzee likely to be retained... well at least until after the three-Test series against France in June.

Coetzee would no doubt have had sleepless nights regarding his future, but he’ll in all likelihood also be staying up late pondering who to appoint in place of the departed Strauss.

It was interesting to read comments made on Wednesday by former Bok skipper Jean de Villiers, with the former centre saying the Springbok captain should be based in South Africa.

I tend to agree with De Villiers.

Logistically it makes sense, considering public appearance commitments and training camps held mid-season.

It’s also imperative for the Springbok captain to be playing Super Rugby - in order to have a better general feel of where the local game is at, as well being up to pace with the speed of the southern hemisphere game.

This obviously rules out several strong candidates for the captain’s armband - the likes of Duane Vermeulen (Toulon, France), Francois Louw (Bath England), Bismarck du Plessis (Montpellier, France) and Schalk Burger (Saracens, England) all play overseas.

When probed about possible local candidates for the Bok captaincy, De Villiers mentioned Handre Pollard (Bulls), Pat Lambie (Sharks), Francois Venter (Cheetahs) and Siya Kolisi (Stormers).

He doesn’t see Lions skipper Warren Whiteley as suitable as he’s not likely to be a certain starter in his position, given the fact that Vermeulen still looms large.

The Boks lacked Vermeulen’s experience and abrasiveness for large parts of a disastrous 2016 campaign.

Of the above-mentioned players, Pollard’s name stands out as the most credible.

The Bulls playmaker missed the entire 2016 season due to injury and his absence in the Springbok No 10 jersey was dearly felt.

Elton Jantjies failed to live up to expectations after a stellar Super Rugby season, while Lambie seemed to struggle for confidence following a long stint on the sidelines - as a result of the heavy knock he took from Ireland’s SA-born flank CJ Stander in the first Test of 2016.

When fit, Pollard is the best flyhalf in South Africa and I feel he is the future of Springbok rugby.

At just 22, Pollard still has his best years ahead and a stellar Super Rugby season could persuade the Bok coach to invest in the future of the team - by making Pollard his new captain.

Apart from possessing a prodigious boot, Pollard’s attacking prowess on the gainline sets him apart from other flyhalves in the country.

His performance in the 27-25 win over the All Blacks at Ellis Park in 2014 - when he twice burst through the Kiwi defence for vital tries - was key in handing the Boks their only win over their old rivals in the last five years.

He led the Junior Springboks with aplomb a few seasons back and it came as no surprise when he was handed the Bulls captaincy.

It is therefore vital, for the sake of South African rugby, that Pollard has a good Super Rugby season and remains injury free in 2017.

With the cream of the crop of South African rugby now plying their trade abroad, selecting a new captain will prove a tricky prospect for the Bok coach.

It may be wise for Springbok fans to hope Pollard emerges as the frontrunner over the next few months...

Herman Mostert works at Sport24 - is a struggling golfer and enjoys tennis...

Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

Read more on:    bulls  |  springboks  |  handre pollard  |  herman mostert  |  rugby


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