‘Handré can thrive at 12’

Junior Springboks coach Dawie Theron believes Handré Pollard will have a big influence on the Currie Cup semi-final at Newlands, even in the No 12 jersey.

According to Theron, Pollard can provide the Blue Bulls with the X factor they need in the midfield. With Burger Odendaal ruled out for the rest of the year after breaking his arm against Griquas, Bulls coach Frans Ludeke will need to reshuffle his midfield for Saturday's match against Western Province.

Ulrich Beyers has been earmarked as a possible replacement at inside centre, but Theron told Die Burger that Pollard would be the 'logical choice' to fill the inside centre role.

'He must be on the field, one way or the other,' said Theron. 'Handré has grown as a player this year and is playing with great confidence. He will give the Bulls something different in the midfield.'

Pollard is not a complete novice when it comes to playing at inside centre, having turned out there in age-group rugby for the Bulls, as well as for Tuks in the Varsity Cup. Theron even selected Pollard at inside centre at the Junior World Championship last year when Jan Serfontein was struck down by injury.

Should he crack the nod for Saturday's match, Pollard will line up alongside another Junior Springbok in William Small-Smith. Theron says he has great respect for Small-Smith, who he believes is one of the most underrated centres in the country.

'He is a very intelligent rugby player, and he'll go far if he can keep the injuries away. William and Handré can be a potent combination for the Bulls.'

While Theron admits there will be challenges in selecting Pollard at inside centre, especially on defence, he believes Pollard has the class to make the move without too much trouble.

'I do not think the adjustment will be large. With so much natural talent he can play anywhere in the backline.'

Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix