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'Whipped off quite quickly': Pollard debut lasts just 27 minutes

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Handre Pollard limped off just 27 minutes into his Leicester debut just five weeks after a knee injury prematurely ended his Rugby Championship campaign with the Springboks. It was August 27 when the 2019 World Cup winner was hurt in his country’s loss to the Wallabies in Adelaide and his exclusion from their squad a few days later saw him fly to England to begin life with his new club.

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At the time the Springboks had suggested that Pollard was only a 20 per cent chance of being fit for the upcoming November tour of Europe, but it eventually emerged that the injury wasn’t as serious as initially feared and the 28-year-old was chosen on the bench by the Tigers for their October 1 round four Premiership trip to Saracens.

With Leicester trailing 27-13 at the interval, Steve Borthwick elected to make three changes at the break – including bringing Pollard on for winger Kini Murimurivalu. However, the South African’s debut appearance in the English league lasted only 27 minutes as he was withdrawn 13 minutes before the finish with an unexplained injury.

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Ahead by 37-18 at the time, Saracens were attacking with a penalty advantage when Owen Farrell kicked the ball in behind the Leicester cover in the middle of the pitch and Pollard, who was wearing strapping on his right knee, was seen turning and running back while occupying a position out wide on his team’s left.

That was his last contribution as he was replaced by sub hooker Joe Taufete’e before the restarted play resulted in another try for Saracens, who went on to comfortably win 51-18. Leicester boss Borthwick didn’t specifically address the Pollard injury during his post-game TV interview.

“We lost our way with the penalty count and more changes had to come later due to injuries. You look at today and a number of players were playing their first game of the season and it looked like that, new combinations, new players playing together. There is going to be more of that so from our point of view we need to keep building the cohesion,” he said.

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Live match broadcaster BT Sport were equally in the dark about the extent of this latest Pollard injury. Ugo Monye stated post-game: “Unfortunately we have not had an update on that but he was whipped off the pitch quite quickly. It was his first game and we just hope from a Leicester perspective that he is hopefully not away for too long.”

Ben Kay added: “He [Pollard] had a knee injury with South Africa which was why he missed the end of the Rugby Championship, so he has come back and made his first appearance on that (artificial) pitch which we know some players who have had knee injuries don’t like but it might be something totally different.

“When you have got someone like that you don’t want to throw them in and then break them, so maybe it is just precautionary.”

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