Cape Town - If the Springboks are to have any chance of winning the 2019 Rugby World Cup, flyhalf Handre Pollard will need to be at his best.
That is the view of former Bok No 10 and 2007 World Cup winner Butch James.
Pollard will be the Boks' most important player at the tournament, says James, and that is a sentiment shared by 2007 World Cup-winning skipper John Smit as well as former Bok Odwa Ndungane.
The three former players were speaking in Johannesburg on Thursday night at the launch of SuperSport's broadcast of this year's tournament.
Pollard was the Springbok flyhalf at the 2015 World Cup, too, but he struggled with injuries in the two years that followed and missed almost all of Allister Coetzee's troubled reign as coach in 2016 and 2017.
Those problems are well and truly behind him now, though, and Pollard is the man the Boks are looking at to dictate tempo, spark attacks and manage games with his accurate boot.
"Handre is really important for us. He needs to be playing at his best for us to have any chance of winning," James said.
"In 2007 with Butch and Fourie we had two guys who controlled the game and took decisions on when to play and when to kick, and it helped us with our energy," he said.
"He will be key in their success and how far they go," Ndungane added.
James' one area of concern when it comes to flyhalf is that coach Rassie Erasmus looks set to go into the World Cup without any specialist No 10 cover on the bench.
Instead, it looks like Frans Steyn will operate as the flyhalf cover off the bench while Elton Jantjies missed out completely.
"To not go with a flyhalf on the bench is really risky," said James.
"If it was the final that he was playing tomorrow, would he make same decision? I'm not so sure. It's a tough one that he will have to figure out during the pool stages.
"I'm delighted to see Frans Steyn in the squad. I think he is outstanding and if it was up to me he would actually be starting, so maybe that would save the whole problem with not having a flyhalf on the bench."
The Boks' first match of the World Cup will be played on September 21 in Yokohama when they take on the All Blacks.