Brenden Nel - SuperSport.com
Pretoria - It’s hard not to notice the excitement on Handre Pollard’s face when he talks about starting the Super Rugby season this weekend against the Hurricanes at Loftus Versfeld.
Pollard has, after all, had a tough three years since bursting onto the scene as a teenager, and making his Springbok debut in the same year, before injuries took its toll.
The long road back finally seemed to end last year, although the Springboks’ decision not to let him recover at the Bulls seemed to work against his quick return to the game, and when he did, he looked rusty.
But a good off-season, a honeymoon in New York after a much-publicised wedding, and a good pre-season and Pollard looks like he’s turned back the clock to a few years ago, with the exuberant smile back and the spring in the step very apparent to see.
And with that, he’s looking forward to completing a season without injury and is confident that he will get better as time goes on.
Still, time brings wisdom, and in Pollard’s own words he is looking forward to putting theory into practice, and to get onto the field again.
“It hasn’t been nice sitting and sorting out injuries in the past two years but that is part of the game. I learnt a lot and at the end of year I was grateful to get an opportunity to play for the Boks. It is always a challenge coming back from injuries but it is a challenge I relish and look forward to,” said Pollard.
Pollard is looking forward to playing against the New Zealand side, who even without Beauden Barrett, are still a quality outfit.
“The Hurricanes are a quality side and have been in the playoffs for the last few years and there is just talent oozing out everywhere. It is up to us to make it as tough as possible for them here at Loftus. It is not easy touring,” said a beaming Pollard.
“Luckily not all the conferences started last weekend and that is a benefit. We are raring to go and we’ve worked hard. We’ve had our four pre-season games and really got a lot of reward out of it. We had no serious injuries so we are very happy with where we are at this stage and we just want to get going now.”
“We have prepared well, we had a great pre-season but at the end of the day the proof is in the pudding. You have to go out and play well in Super Rugby. All the work has been done, it is about executing well under pressure on Saturday,” Pollard added.
Step one is getting back on the field, and measuring themselves against the best. It may be a rough start to the tournament, but the Bulls, and Pollard in particular, are looking forward to the challenge.
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