'The emotional toll': Pollard talks about World Cup journey
SPOTLIGHT: The dust is slowly settling on the Springboks’ latest World Cup victory and the magnitude of their success still hasn’t fully sunk in for some of their stars.
One of those players is flyhalf Handre Pollard, who scored all of his team’s points in the 12-11 victory over the All Blacks in the Final
In an interview with Sky Sports earlier this week, Pollard said he is only now just starting to process everything.
“I think it will still take a while. It is just great being back at Leicester now. I think that is going to help a lot in getting over it.
“As awesome as it is and amazing as it is, life goes on and you got to get cracking again at the club so it is great to be back here.”
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Pollard was not selected for the initial 33-man World Cup squad, but he was called up after Malcolm Marx suffered a serious knee injury in training during the group stages.
The 29-year-old playmaker played key roles off the bench in the quarterfinal and semifinal wins over France and England before he got the No.10 jersey for the Final.
With Manie Libbok initially being the first-choice No.10, Pollard said he wasn’t sure how his role would look when coming into the squad.
“I just thought wherever I can contribute. Whether that is in training or just helping the team.
“We got a great culture in terms of that. The guys who are not playing will stay positive and know their role and how they have to prepare the team for weekends.
“I thought initially that was going to be my role because the team was in a good place and I was open to doing anything.
“If they needed me on game day, then brilliant. If not, then I had a different role to play.”
The Springboks had a much tougher road to World Cup success this time compared to 2019. They played Scotland and Ireland in the pool stages before their run of matches against France and England and the All Blacks in the play-offs.
The Boks also managed to win all their play-off games by just one point.
“What makes this one special is the route we had to take and the teams we had to play against,” Pollard explained.
“We played against the top five teams in the world in order to win the World Cup. It is unbelievable, especially in the finals.
“Winning one of those Test matches in that manner [by one point] is unbelievable in terms of the emotional toll it takes on you and the place you have to go to win those games.
“To do that three weeks in a row, that was unbelievable.”
To see the impact the victory has had on his country will never get old for Pollard.
“It is something we really didn’t understand when we were younger. We knew the Springboks were big and it was a big part of our country. After 2019 we saw what was capable and what we can do to the country,” said the flyhalf.
“It’s not going to change our country and all the problems are not going to go away but the joy we can bring to those people, who sometimes go months or years without something to smile about, that is our purpose.
“It brings something out of you as a player that I think you don’t even realise is there.
“It is something we are very sacred about and we are going to protect that with everything we have going forward because it is truly special.”