South Africa v Scotland: Handre Pollard to make Springboks debut
South Africa v Scotland: IRB Junior Player of the Year Handre Pollard will make his Springboks debut in Port Elizabeth on Saturday
IRB Junior Player of the Year Handre Pollard will make his South Africa debut against Scotland in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
The 20-year-old, who led the Baby Boks to the final of the Junior World Championship last week in Auckland, is one of five uncapped players named by Heyneke Meyer for their fourth match this month.
Handre is a very talented player and has a big opportunity this week
As the issue of quotas in sport in South Africa resurfaces, Meyer has been forced to juggle his team from the one that came from 13 points down to stun Wales 31-30 in Nelspruit last week for different reasons with several overseas players returning to their clubs.
“We had to make a number of changes to the team and while team selection is never easy, especially this week when we had to make a few hard decisions, it’s been great to see the excitement under the players for this final Test of the series,” said Meyer.
“Our plans had always been to try a few new combinations this week against Scotland and I’m looking forward to see the guys grab their opportunities.”
South Africa’s squad has also been decimated with 18 internationals out injured, but Meyer has been able to name a relatively familiar backline.
Menacing full-back Willie le Roux retains his place with Cornal Hendricks continuing on the right wing after impressing against Wales, while Lwazi Mvovo is promoted to cover the space left by Toulon’s Bryan Habana on the left wing.
JP Pietersen and Jan Serfontein continue their makeshift midfield partnership for a third Test, with U20 captain Pollard taking over from Morne Steyn alongside Fourie du Preez at half-back.
“Handre is a very talented player and has a big opportunity this week, but he’ll have Fourie du Preez’s experience next to him, while he’s played a lot with Jan Serfontein before,” Meyer added.
“It’s great to have the current and a former World Junior Player of the Year in the same backline.”
Up front, the only change in the front row sees Coenie Oosthuizen replace injured loosehead Tendai Mtawarira, who misses out with a neck injury, while du Plessis brothers Bismarck and Jannie continuing at hooker and tighthead, respectively.
In the second row, South Africa captain—and most capped Springbok—Victor Matfield keeps his place, with Lood de Jager coming in to replace Flip van der Merwe, who has been ruled out for six months with a PCL injury.
Man of the match against Wales in Nelspruit, Duane Vermeulen continues at number 8 with Schalk Burger promoted from the bench to start at openside and Marcell Coetzee coming in at blindside.
A new-look bench sees prop Marcel van der Merwe come in with fellow forwards Stephan Lewies (lock) and Oupa Mohoje also hoping to get a run out. Marnitz Boshoff provides cover for Pollard with more-experienced options including scrum-half Francois Hougaard and Leinster versatile back Zane Kirchner.
South Africa: Willie le Roux; Cornal Hendricks, JP Pietersen, Jan Serfontein, Lwazi Mvovo; Handre Pollard, Fourie du Preez; Coenie Oosthuizen, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Lood de Jager , Victor Matfield (captain), Marcell Coetzee, Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen.
Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Marcel van der Merwe, Stephan Lewies, Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje; Francois Hougaard, Marnitz Boshoff, Zane Kirchner.