Pollard 'must be hating' Bok game plan
SPOTLIGHT: Springbok legend Joel Stransky believes Handre Pollard is not enjoying his rugby with the Springboks.
In an interview with the Leicester Mercury, Stransky spoke about Pollard’s role within the Bok team and his upcoming move to the Leicester Tigers, a club Stransky represented between 1997 and 1999.
Pollard, who is currently playing for French club Montpellier, will join his new club at the end of the current season to fill the No.10 vacancy created by George Ford’s move to Sale Sharks.
Stransky is hoping that the 27-year-old will be given a chance to play to his full potential in England.
“I was delighted for him and the Tigers,” Stransky told the Leicester Mercury.
“Because firstly, I think he has played in a game plan that doesn’t suit him for the past couple of seasons.
“I think the Springboks have evolved to a game plan that is great with where the laws of the game are, it’s great for the makeup of our team. There’s two ways to pick your team and ours is very much about picking the biggest, strongest pack of forwards we can and some speedy backs and then we play a game plan that is forward dominated. It doesn’t give too much control or influence to the number ten.
“As much as in his early days he shone and was outstanding, in the last two or three seasons, I would guess, if you were to have a quiet conversation with him, completely off the record, I would guess that his work satisfaction levels are quite low.
“He can’t admit anywhere in public that he doesn’t back the game plan, but I can’t believe he is enjoying playing the game plan. I can’t believe he gets great satisfaction from playing that way, it’s completely foreign to a player of his skillset.
“He has got an amazing skill set. He’s a little bit bigger than most flyhalves. He attacks the gain line, he’s nimble, he’s strong, he’s got a great offload game.
“He reads the game well when he’s given the authority to read it. His kicking game is really solid. He’s a really complete footballer. He just plays in a team where the success of that team is based on a game plan that doesn’t suit him.
“I think when he gets to the Tigers he will hopefully be given, I don’t want to say leeway, but he will be given the opportunity to go and blossom again. He’s such a really cool young man, with so much talent. I think he will flourish at Leicester. It’s a club that really embraces the players, the people, it’s a community that embraces the club and its player.”
‘The worst job satisfaction’
Pollard has had his fair share of criticism for his performances this year with many believing that the ACL injury he suffered in 2020 played a role in his form.
“There is a view that he’s lost a little spark since that ACL injury, that he’s not quite the player he was. I am not convinced about that,” Stransky added.
“I think he has the worst job satisfaction in the world as a rugby player at the moment. He must be hating playing in a game plan where he doesn’t get the ball, where he’s not in control.
“There’s no opportunity to run at defensive lines and do backline moves and free up the likes of Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am. To stand there and watch the scrumhalf kick 90 percent of the ball away, he must be wanting to pull his hair out and vomit on the field.”
When Pollard does head over to Leicester next year he will be reunited with Aled Walters (Head of Physical Performance).
Walters was part of the coaching team that guided the Springboks to World Cup glory in 2019.
Pollard said Walters “was a big factor” behind his decision to move to Leicester.
“As much as Aled is a wonderful guy, and unbelievably good at what he does, the opportunity for Handre to work with him and hopefully restore those legs back to 100 percent is in his thinking, but I don’t think it’s the be-all and end-all,” said Stransky.
“I think for him it’s an opportunity to go and play rugby at a rugby club in a rugby city in a rugby environment, where he will be loved and respected and he can hopefully, under the coaching team at Tigers who are doing an unbelievable job, and play a game plan that really suits him.”
Source: Leicester Mercury