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#WATCH: Pollard warns about pivotal peril facing Boks

A lot has changed since Ireland secured a 13-8 win over South Africa in the World Cup pool match in France in September.

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First, the Springboks’ coaching ticket has some new faces.

Tony Brown is now the attack coach, Jerry Flannery is the defence coach and Rassie Erasmus was reinstated as the head coach.

On the field, there will be two new generals.

For Ireland, Jack Crowley takes over from retired veteran Johnny Sexton at flyhalf, while Handre Pollard returns as the playmaker for South Africa.

Pollard missed that famous World Cup pool encounter in Paris due to the injury.

His absence was felt as the team struggled with goal-kicking.

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However, the Leicester Tigers No.10 returned and his goal-kicking proved crucial in Paris as South Africa edged France, England and New Zealand in the knockout rounds to retain the title.

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“I was in the stands watching and I remember just thinking the boys did an unbelievable job,” Pollard told reporters at the Springboks’ base in Pretoria.

“I thought we [SA] played well that day,” the No.10 said, adding: “It was just unfortunate that we couldn’t convert all our opportunities.

“We created many opportunities and there were opportunities to put them away but we didn’t.

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“Credit to them, [they are a] great side.

“They are always going to try and keep us out.

“But we should take confidence out of that.

“We were so close that day and back at home we will try to change it.”

While goal-kicking is one area South Africa has to improve, Pollard also said the Springboks need to be more composed as they seek to end their losing streak against Ireland.

“The goal-kicking is a separate part of the game.

“We got to focus on playing well and give ourselves [scoring] opportunities if we don’t do that there won’t be kicks at goal anyway.

“We know the opportunities are there, it was there in Paris as well.

“We just have to be a little bit composed and try to get something out every 22 entries.

“There won’t be a lot but whenever you get that shot we have to be clinical.”

He added:  “Everybody has got a massive role to play.

“My responsibility is to drive the team forward, make sure we play in the right areas of the field and control the game.

“But everybody got the thing they have to do.

“I don’t think anyone is more important than the other one.

“These days rugby is not a 10-man game like in the past, so all have to contribute to do our best.”

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Pollard is set to go head-to-head against a new Ireland playmaker Crowley, following the retirement of Sexton.

Crowley has been very impressive for Munster and instrumental in Ireland’s Six Nations triumph.

“Jonny Sexton was massive for them, but Jack Crowley has been good,” the Leicester flyhalf said.

“They needed someone to fill that role and he stepped up.

“He is a guy that we spoke about a lot this week.

“He controls the game very well and takes the ball to the line well.

“He is a big threat.

“We will try to look after him as best as we can.

“He filled that gap well.”

Saturday will be a very welcome return to Loftus Verfelsd for Pollard, who started his senior career at the Bulls in 2013.

The 30-year-old, who is one of the darlings of Loftus Verfeld, was at the Bulls for seven years before joining Montpellier in 2019.

“[Loftus] is a special place. I keep it dear to my heart,” Pollard said.

“I spent seven good years at the Bulls and I love Loftus.

“It is a great stadium to play at and with a sold-out Loftus, it is going to be a great game.”

@leezil07
@rugby365com

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