“I am glad Rassie gave him that 30 minutes against Japan and hopefully he will also give him a start against a team like Namibia”
SPRINGBOK legend Victor Matfield is crossing his fingers Handré Pollard does not suffer an injury at this year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Matfield is joining a chorus of voices believing Pollard will be the key to the country’s success at the quadrennial showpiece.
Last week fellow 2007 World Cup winners, captain John Smit and Butch James said Pollard was the country’s trump card in Japan.
“We have a lot of depth in all positions, the one area (of concern) is probably if Handré gets injured,” Matfield said.
“Elton Jantjies is a very capable player, but he hasn’t played a lot of Tests where we were very successful. I think the rest of the players take a lot of confidence out of it when Handré is there. He is probably the key guy for us not to lose. If we lose him, Elton can step in, and Francois Steyn can step in, but Handré is the one player we need on the park.”
Steyn’s cameo in the Boks’ 41-7 win over Japan in Saitama last week revealed a bit of Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus’ thinking.
Although Lions flyhalf Jantjies has been Pollard’s understudy he has not quite stamped his authority.
Matfield believed Steyn’s versatility could provide Erasmus with some flexibility.
“I am glad Rassie gave him that 30 minutes against Japan and hopefully he will also give him a start against a team like Namibia,” Matfield said.
“We know he is fine to come in at 12 or 15, but at 10 you need to spend time there. He (Steyn) probably trains there quite a bit, but that is not the same, that will still be the position where Rassie would think if he needs Elton on the bench or if he is happy with Frans there.”
Pollard has been instrumental to the Boks’ success in this year’s Rugby Championships where he has been the team’s tactical weapon.
Matfield believed South Africa had the potential to raise the William Webb Trophy for the third time thanks to the team’s depth and momentum this year.
“We have a great team, and I am looking forward, and I think the guys can do well,” Matfield said.