A match fit Handré Pollard would be the best bet at flyhalf for the Sprinboks against the Lions. Morné Steyn has been excellent for the Bulls, but it has been in domestic rugby.
OVER the next few weeks, our rugby writers will be debating their Springbok choices from No.15 to No.1 for the upcoming series against the British and Irish Lions. Today we focus on No.10, flyhalf.
MIKE GREENAWAY’S CHOICE: Morné Steyn
A match-fit Handré Pollard would be the best bet at flyhalf for the Boks against the Lions, but Pollard has only just started playing again for Montpellier after over a year out with injury; so if the Boks were playing a Test on Saturday, he would not be ready.
Morné Steyn is, though. It was a masterstroke by Jake White to bring the veteran back to the Bulls and the 36-year-old has been key in the resurgence of the Pretoria team. Steyn, of course, was the flyhalf when the Boks won the 2009 series against the Lions, and if Pollard does not come good between now and the first Test on July 24, it’s hugely encouraging for coach Jacques Nienaber to know that he has Steyn.
ASHFAK MOHAMED’S CHOICE: Handré Pollard
The ‘golden boy’ of South African rugby had to sit on the sidelines for about eight months with a serious knee injury, and returned at the beginning of May for Montpellier.
He is not quite at full tilt yet, but has been getting more game time at his club and started alongside fellow Bok Cobus Reinach at the weekend.
By the time the Lions tour comes around, Pollard will be 100%, and considering his enormous impact for the Boks previously, he is a shoo-in at No.10.
There also haven’t been any real challengers at flyhalf. Morné Steyn has been excellent for the Bulls, but it has been in domestic rugby. Elton Jantjies is busy finding his form for Pau in France as well.
WYNONA LOUW’S CHOICE: Handré Pollard
With Pollard having returned to fitness, there probably isn’t too much room for debate on who will don the Springbok No.10 jumper come the British & Irish Lions Series.
Pollard made his first appearance since injury in September as Montpellier reached the European Challenge Cup final with a 19-10 win at Bath.
On the domestic front, veteran flyhalf Morné Steyn has been in scintillating form, playing a key role in the Bulls’ resurgence under Jake White as he’s hung on to his ace kicking boot while also mixing it up with a more influential role on attack.
Elton Jantjies has also been doing his thing in France, so the Boks are well stocked when it comes to their flyhalf resources.
MORGAN BOLTON’S FLYHALF: Handré Pollard
To my mind, and I believe many will agree, there are really only three choices: Handré Pollard, Elton Jantjies and Morné Steyn.
Pollard has recently returned from injury, one that saw him sit on the sidelines from last year September, and his recuperation will be a massive boon for the Boks’ Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber.
Pollard is the natural first choice, especially after admitting that he has full confidence in his healed knee. Jantjies is currently in France, where he has played 186 minutes in three Top 14 matches for Pau, and he will in all probability play as back-up should anything happen to Pollard.
Then there is the veteran Steyn. The 36-year-old played his last Test match in 2016, but his experience against the British & Irish Lions, and in general, is invaluable.