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Springboks latest: Wayward Pollard, injured Kolbe, creaking scrum

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

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Springboks assistant coach Deon Davids has provided a wide-ranging squad update following last Sunday’s dramatic last-gasp Rugby Championship loss to Australia on the Gold Coast, jumping from Handre Pollard to Cheslin Kolbe and onto the set-piece.


The world champions have since relocated to Brisbane ahead of Saturday’s rematch versus the Wallabies and their team announcement is expected at 11am (SAT) on Wednesday. Ahead of that big reveal, assistant Davids fronted the media virtually on Tuesday and was pressed on how Pollard has reacted to his inaccuracy off the tee, what the current status is of Kolbe’s injury, and what the consensus is on the problems the Springboks encountered at the scrum.

In a match the Springboks lost narrowly 28-26 to a late Quade Cooper penalty, the inaccuracy of Pollard off the tee in missing two penalties and a conversion has been a hot topic in the fallout from what was the first away from home Test match played by the Springboks since their November 2019 World Cup final win over England in Japan.

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How the Springboks can bounce back
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How the Springboks can bounce back

Asked what the reflections have been on a rare day where Pollard let the team down with his striking, Davids replied: “That is an area that we obviously did discuss and looked at but Handre Pollard is a professional rugby player, he is a quality individual on and off the field. He is the first guy who will say he didn’t perform, he wasn’t on song with his kicking game. 

“But we know what he can do and know he is a guy that takes pride in the way he does things. We are confident he will correct that and will work hard in order to improve in that specific area. We will look at it collectively in terms of using the squad and what the challenges are going forward and we will make a decision accordingly.”

Kolbe, a first-choice winger, wasn’t involved in the round three loss having been sidelined with a leg injury since the mid-August win over Argentina in Port Elizabeth, but whether he will be available for selection to take on the Wallabies next Saturday in round four wasn’t conclusive. “We travelled Monday and today [Tuesday] had extensive meetings where we discussed the key areas of our game and had a walk-through. All the players, all the guys with niggles, were involved in terms of that. Tomorrow [Wednesday] we will hit the field running and have clarity on the injuries. All the niggles are being assessed and when we hit the field we will know exactly where we stand.”


Switching to the scrum, an area of the game that the Springboks greatly prides itself on, some problems were encountered in a match refereed by England’s Luke Pearce and with another English official, Matthew Carley, set to take charge in Brisbane, steps have been taken to ensure there are no repeat frustrations at the set-piece. “Set-piece is a very important part of our game,” admitted Davids. 

“Talking about scrums, it’s an area that is really difficult to officiate and the important thing for us looking back is we just need to make sure there is alignment between the pictures that we see as coaches and the pictures that the referees have seen. Going forward, we understand how we need to interpret and the areas we need to work on. 

“The calls can go any way but it is competitive and I feel for the referees and the players in terms of the calls they have to make and also in terms of the reward that is expected in the specific areas. Looking back at today we had clear discussions in terms of that. There were also discussions with the referee in terms of the interpretation and going forward we will have a better understanding in terms of what we need to do to make sure we get rewarded.”



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