Rassie Erasmus Springboks

SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus. Image: SA Sport

WATCH: Rassie confirms Handrè Pollard WILL play against Tonga [video]

Following South Africa’s 13-8 defeat to Ireland in the Rugby World Cup, Rassie Erasmus spoke openly about upcoming changes to the Bok team.

Rassie Erasmus Springboks

SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus. Image: SA Sport

Flyhalf Handrè Pollard’s name has been thrust into the spotlight after the Springboks suffered a disappointing 13-8 defeat against the top-ranked team in the world, Ireland, in their Rugby World Cup Pool B clash at the Stade de France in Paris.

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The tight contest on Saturday evening saw parity in many areas of the game, except for goal-kicking.

The Boks left 11 points on the field – two long-range penalties from Faf de Klerk and a missed penalty and conversion by flyhalf Manie Libbok – which could have given the game a different outcome.

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This had led to calls for Bok management to bring back flyhalf Handrè Pollard, who recently joined the squad from his club, Leicester Tigers, having just recovered from a calf injury.

In the post-match press conference on Saturday, SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus confirmed that Pollard will take to the field in South Africa’s final Pool B clash against Tonga.

“Handre is playing this weekend (against Tonga), but let’s see if he gets a start and does he make it through the whole game on the contact side of things,” Erasmus told journalists after the Ireland clash.

“I’m sure he’ll also take some time to find his rhythm with the kicking under pressure in big test matches. Tonga will be a great yardstick for Handrè if and when we go into those quarter-finals.”

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Watch from 6:30 onwards…

Video: Forever Sports/ YouTube

The Springboks’ technical team will need to decide whether Pollard’s goal-kicking reliability is worth exchanging for the flamboyant skills of Libbok.

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Much of that will depend on Pollard’s fitness and whether he looks match-sharp against Tonga. Naturally, his goal-kicking in that match will also be a huge focus.

Ultimately, Pollard’s physical condition will be a consideration, his form off the kicking tee and how much the team’s management values Libbok’s flair and playmaking skills.

“Manie is certainly playing brilliant flyhalf rugby at this stage, but obviously, his goal-kicking is not matching that,” Erasmus added.

The Springboks’ current trajectory, provided they beat Tonga convincingly in their final pool match, should see them face France in the quarter-finals.