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Springboks back hooker depth as Handre Pollard called into RWC squad : PlanetRugby


South Africa have officially called up Springboks’ fly-half Handre Pollard to replace injured hooker Malcolm Marx in their Rugby World Cup squad.

Pollard initially missed out on the Springboks’ 33-man squad for the World Cup due to a calf injury.

However, the 29-year-old made his return from injury for Leicester Tigers, coming off the bench in the Premiership Rugby Cup victory over the Sale Sharks.

SA Rugby confirmed Pollard’s call-up on Sunday after their 76-0 victory over Romania in their second Pool B match.

Handre Pollard called into the Springboks squad

Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber explained that the coaching staff was happy with their current cover at hooker in the squad despite Bongi Mbonambi being the only out-and-out hooker.

Back-rowers Deon Fourie and Marco van der Staden provided further options in the front-row and performed the hooker roles in the win over Romania.

“We are confident with the cover we have at hooker with Bongi Mbonambi and Deon Fourie, and Marco van Staden has been slotting in the position since our alignment camps in February,” Nienaber said on Sunday.

“We opted to call up Handre, who has been in our system for years and who was a member of our team in 2019 when we won the World Cup.

“He’s been working hard to return to full fitness, and we are pleased that he now has some game time under his belt for his club, and this will allow him to slot back into the team.

“We’ll work closely with him in the next week to get him back up to speed and back into the full swing of things, and we have no doubt he’ll step up to the challenge. He’s been here before, so he knows the physical and mental demands of the World Cup.”

Concern for Vincent Koch

There is another injury concern in the Springboks squad after tighthead prop Vincent Koch withdrew from the clash on Sunday.

The prop was set to earn his first start for the Boks since the 2019 World Cup but pulled up in the warm-up.

“Vincent hobbled in the warm-up, I think it is his knee,” Nienaber said after the match.

“I don’t have an idea how bad it is, but the doctor will go through it, and we’ll have a better understanding maybe tonight.”

South Africa next face Ireland in their penultimate Pool B match on September 23.

READ MORE: Springboks player ratings: Rapid Reinach and magical Mapimpi score hat-tricks in Romania thrashing



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