Handre Pollard is still considered so vital to the Springboks’ cause in future that he even makes headlines in the South African A side.
And the scary thing about that is he’s only playing from the bench!
The Bulls flyhalf’s return to competitive rugby – he injured an ankle in April – had already been a talking point last week after being called up to Johan Ackermann’s side.
However, the rush to press Pollard back into action has been halted by the SA A mentor’s own sense of fairness.
The 23-year-old pivot will probably only play about 20 minutes in Friday’s match against the French Barbarians in Orlando.
“I’ve got the freedom to decide how long Handre needs to play,” said Ackermann on Wednesday.
“The whole idea from Allister (Coetzee) and SA Rugby’s is to determine where he currently stands. We want to see how sharp he is after that injury. It’s about testing him against international opposition.”
However, the Lions coach feels he owes it to starting flyhalf, the Cheetahs’ Fred Zeilinga, to give him decent game time.
“We’re going to give Fred a fair opportunity,” said Ackermann.
“He was patient when he sat on the bench last week and only played about 20 minutes. I want to reward him as he was selected initially anyway.”
That said, Zeilinga isn’t really considered a contender for a Springboks jersey but Pollard is.
He’ll definitely add national depth despite Elton Jantjies’ excellent form.
“I have to be fair to Handre too,” said Ackermann.
“I can’t really see him getting more than 2o minutes. Let’s be honest. What happens if he have to use Juan de Jongh (the other backline replacement) early and also have to bring on a substitute at scrumhalf? That means Handre will then have to cover all the other backline positions should be be needed. That’s not a position you want to put him in when he’s just returned.”