Home Sport Brown out to reignite attacking spark in Pollard

Brown out to reignite attacking spark in Pollard

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Springbok attack coach Tony Brown wants to get that attacking instinct of flyhalf Handre Pollard, that he showed as a Junior Springbok, back into his game.

South Africa and Leicester Tigers’ Handre Pollard scoresduring a match. File Picture: Mike Egerton

Springbok attack coach Tony Brown wants to get that attacking instinct of flyhalf Handre Pollard, that he showed as a Junior Springbok, back into his game.

It might not happen this weekend when South Africa face Ireland in the first of two Tests at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria (kick-off 5.05pm). Still, Brown is working hard behind the scenes with the double World Cup-winning flyhalf to rediscover a trait that made him a threat across the park.

There’s nothing wrong with Pollard’s kicking boot and he has saved the world champions on multiple occasions with his accuracy at goal. His crucial kicks brought South Africa World Cup success in 2019 and last year.

But the Boks are constantly looking to evolve their attack with their skilful backline players, and Brown is confident Pollard can hit that attacking form again. The former All Black playmaker has been working with the Bok playmakers, helping them to identify space to exploit on the field.

“Hopefully, with more time we can build quite a good partnership and get him to play some really exciting rugby,” Brown said on Monday in Pretoria where the Boks are preparing for the Irish onslaught.

“When I watched him as an Under-20s player, he was probably the most dominant flyhalf on the gain line in the world. If we can get him back to that sort of footy, it would be amazing.

“Guys like Manie (Libbok), Sacha (Feinberg-Mngomezulu) and Jordan (Hendrikse) play the game a bit differently, so it’s all about understanding each other. This will only develop over time. They all have amazing skill sets and can push themselves massively to be better players. It’s exciting for me, and hopefully for them to be coached from a different perspective. As the attacking coach, I want them to be the best attackers in the world.”

The short-term goal for Brown will be to get the team to attack better than what they have been doing. He’s excited for the journey ahead, especially starting at home against tough opposition like the Irish.

The Springboks haven’t beaten the world’s second-ranked side since 2016, and it’s a little statistic they want to get rid of. In the last two meetings, missed opportunities kicking at goal cost the Boks, and Brown has been doubling up as kicking coach to assist the flyhalves.

According to the New Zealander, Ireland have been playing some good rugby over the past few years and probably feel they should have got more from their World Cup campaigns. That, he believes, will spice up the affair even more against the back-to-back champions and world’s top-ranked team.

“South Africa has always had a play(ing) style that is hard to stop, and it’s based around physicality and being dominant in the set piece. They are never easy to play against.

“We can do some amazing things on the attack if we continue to be dominant up front and try and evolve our attacking around space, try to get players to understand how we create that space and what is required to do to attack it.

“The biggest thing for me is the weekend. As a rugby player, you want to play in the biggest matches. I’ve always wanted to coach in the biggest matches and this weekend is a big occasion. Ireland is one of the bigger teams in the world and it will be a great challenge.

“Jerry (Flannery, former Irish international and Bok defence coach) knows a lot about Ireland, and I can’t reveal what he’s told the boys, but he has some inside info on their mentality and mindset.”

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