Cape Town - Former Springbok fullback Thinus Delport says flyhalf Handre Pollard has become as crucial to the Springbok cause as Jonathan Sexton is to Ireland.
Pollard and Sexton will square off against each other when the two countries clash at Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday.
Pollard, 20, will earn just his seventh Springbok cap on Saturday but he produced a performance beyond his years when the Boks beat the All Blacks 27-25 at Ellis Park last month.
Coach Heyneke Meyer earlier this week described Pollard as a "special, special attacking player" and Delport agrees.
Delport, who played 18 Tests for the Boks between 2000 and 2003, currently works as a rugby pundit in the Northern Hemisphere. He spoke to the independent.ie website ahead of Saturday's Test.
"Pollard has been outstanding. He's got such a mature head on his shoulders," said Delport. "He's attacking the line with intent and he's not afraid to get involved in the physical side of the game. He's very much like Sexton in that regard except he's a few years younger. His distribution is top-class and he really gets the backline moving."Teams:
Delport said the only current area in Pollard's game that needs work is his tactical kicking but added that the attacking edge he adds is crucial to the game plan the Springboks currently employ.
A decent performance against the 29-year-old, 48-Test capped Sexton will go a long way in making Pollard one of the international stars of 2014.
Kick-off for Saturday's clash at Aviva Stadium is scheduled for 19:30 (SA time).
15 Rob Kearney, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Paul O'Connell (captain), 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath
Substitutes: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Mike McCarthy, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Felix Jones
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Bakkies Botha, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 JP Pietersen