Steve Hansen believes the Springboks’ 10-12-13 combination has awesome potential, and will test the All Blacks’ defence this Saturday, reports JON CARDINELLI in Johannesburg.
Heyneke Meyer took a chance when he selected Handré Pollard at No 10, Damian de Allende at 12 and Jesse Kriel at 13 for the first match of the international season against the World XV. At that point, Pollard had started in eight Tests and De Allende two, while Kriel was yet to earn his first cap.
Meyer admitted that it was a gamble to pick three inexperienced players in those key positions. It was a gamble that paid off, at least as far as the attacking game is concerned.
Pollard, De Allende and Kriel proved a handful for defenders in the game against the World XV. They were even better a week later, with Kriel in particular making a statement with a well taken try.
Their performances have caught the All Blacks’ attention. Last year, Hansen said that the Boks had become a more potent prospect since Pollard was installed at flyhalf. In the buildup to the coming clash at Ellis Park, Hansen was again full of praise for the 21-year-old playmaker.
‘Handré could really become something special,’ Hansen said. ‘All three of those blokes are very good athletes. [De Allende] is a big strong boy at No 12, and [Kriel] showed last week that he has some gas.
‘I hope to see Jean de Villiers back in action soon [for the Boks]. But once there is a changing of the guard, I think those three are going to be the way forward. Then the Boks also have a player like Pat Lambie, who brings something else to the game. There’s a bit of depth there.’
Hansen admitted that the All Blacks aren’t exactly thin in the position of flyhalf either. Lima Sopoaga, who recently won the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament with the Highlanders, will win his first Test cap at Ellis Park on Saturday. Beauden Barrett will cover the position from the bench. Dan Carter, who may yet start at the coming World Cup, has been rested for the South African tour.
Lock James Broadhurst is another who will debut this weekend, while several others have been handed opportunities to stake their claim ahead of the World Cup. While both teams are striving for a positive result, it’s clear that Hansen and his opposite number Heyneke Meyer are using the Rugby Championship to explore alternatives in a few positions.
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