Handre Pollard and the rest of his Bulls teammates invited to Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus’ alignment camp arrived in Arcadia with big smiles on their faces on Sunday.
The source of that happiness isn’t difficult to pinpoint.
“There will be plenty of banter,” said Pollard jokingly given that certain members of the Sharks will be joining them.
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“It will be nicer for us to rock up there than them. It’s actually a bit of motivation – you never want to go to a Bok alignment camp on the back of a derby loss!
“No, when we all assemble we’ll be over it. We know what the bigger picture is. This year is about the World Cup and the Springboks. There’s always a bit more excitement when there’s a camp in a World Cup year. Rassie and co just shed light on things from a different angle and that makes it very interesting.”
Yet Pollard will be extra satisfied as he’ll hear about the Springbok masterplan safe in the knowledge that he’s Erasmus’ first-choice pivot.
The 25-year-old has been in superb form, marshalling the Bulls’ pragmatic game-plan well and contributing a competition-leading 74 points to date.
In fact, it’s remarkable to think that Pollard only made his 50th Super Rugby appearance in the 37-14 triumph over the Durbanites.
“It was an honour. It took me long enough with all the injuries,” he said.
“It’s a nice personal milestone. You don’t actively work towards it, but when it comes along it’s nice to reflect back on the seven years you’ve been here and gone through. It was also great to enjoy it with a win.”
His newfound maturity and confidence is also evident in how he’s more than comfortable taking the lead in the Bulls’ point-scoring efforts.
It’s not always pretty, but it’s effective.
“I don’t drop a lot,” said Pollard with a smile after being asked about his rare drop goal.
“I think it’s my first drop goal for the Bulls. At the time, I believed it was the right call because it took us ahead by more than two scores. It’s the way we play, we’ll play what we see.”