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Pollard Downplays Individual Role, Emphasizes Teamwork Ahead Of Ireland Test

  • July 3, 2024
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Pollard Downplays Individual Role, Emphasizes Teamwork Ahead Of Ireland Test

Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard stressed the importance of a collective effort when South Africa faces Ireland in Pretoria on Saturday (17:00).

The match marks the first of a two-Test series against their Six Nations rivals.

Responding to suggestions about his crucial role as the starting team’s go-to kicker, Pollard emphasized everyone’s contribution.

“My responsibility is to drive the team forward and control the game,” said Pollard. 

“Rugby is a team sport, and everyone needs to contribute to our team goals. Goal kicking is important, but ideally, we’d like to create opportunities throughout the match to score points. If we can do that and be clinical in our execution, it would be the first prize for us.” 

Pollard dismissed the pre-match hype surrounding the world champion Springboks facing a team some consider the world’s best.

“We don’t see things that way,” he said. “For us, this is a Test match, and we are a proud nation that wants to represent the country with pride, and we certainly want to protect our home turf. 

“The confidence in the group is good and we’ve prepared well. As a team we are not driven by what happened between the teams in the past, although obviously we’d like to change that. But our focus this weekend is on the task at hand.” 

He acknowledged the loss of veteran Irish flyhalf Johnny Sexton but expects a challenge from his replacement, Jack Crowley. “Johnny was massive for them,” said Pollard. “But Crowley has really stepped up to the challenge. He plays to the advantage line, tackles well, and he’s a skilful player, so we’ll definitely have to look after him.” 

Having missed the Springboks’ 13-8 World Cup pool stage defeat to Ireland in France due to being out of the squad, Pollard highlighted the importance of capitalizing on opportunities.

“I was in the stands watching the last Ireland game, and unfortunately we didn’t use all our opportunities in that match,” said Pollard. 

“Credit to them, they are a great side. We created chances and the result could have been different, but we’ll take confidence from that.” 

The Bok veteran, who began his career with the Vodacom Bulls, expressed his excitement about returning to Loftus Versfeld. “Loftus is a special place and one of the great stadiums in the world to play at. I played there for seven years and there’s always a great atmosphere at the ground, so we are really looking forward to the match.”

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