VIDEO: Bok replacements - 'Handré is in the mix'
The final call will only be made after Sunday’s game against Romania, but coach Jacques Nienaber has not ruled out the possibility of calling up a flyhalf for the injured hooker Malcolm Marx.
Marx went down at training on Wednesday, after having his leg caught between the legs on a teammate in a contact session.
Addressing a media briefing at the team’s Bordeaux base on Friday, ahead of the Round Two World Cup face-off with Stejarii (The Oaks), Nienaber revealed that he will keep a close eye on Springbok flyhalf Handré Pollard.
Having missed selection for the initial 33-man World Cup squad as a result of a calf injury he suffered towards the end of the 2022/23 Premiership season, Pollard will travel with Leicester Tigers to Manchester for a Premiership Cup encounter with Sale Sharks.
“Definitely yeah,” Nienaber said, when asked if he would cast a glance at the game, adding: “We will definitely have a look at the Leicester game.
“I think Handré is in the mix,” he said, while being quizzed about potential replacements for Marx.
The coach said they will also keep an eye on other players, adding that centre Lukhanyo Am is close to being ready.
“[It is] probably a week or two before he’s ready and fit to play.
“All the players that were injured and are close to being on our ‘ready to play’ list as they return from injury.
“We will have a look at all of them.”
The coach said their focus now is on the match against The Oaks and they will make a call on a replacement after Sunday.
“There’s a 48 hour period before you can get somebody in, because of administrative issues,” he said, adding that ‘their team is ‘settled’ and they’ve got a backup in the World Cup squad.
(WATCH as Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber explains the process to decide on a replacement for the injured Malcolm Marx and potential candidates...)
“We will probably make a decision after the game, in terms of who we’re going to bring in.
“If you take your eye off the ball, and I don’t say France did [against Uruguay on Thursday], but you could see if you’re not 100 percent on top of your game you’ll be in trouble.
“If we start thinking about who we’re going to bring in, instead of focusing on Romania, it might become a slippery game for us.”
Nienaber also addressed the issue of a third specialist player in a crucial position such as a hooker.
“Let’s not look at hooker, let’s take flyhalf.
“So we’ve got Manie [Libbok] and we’ve got Damian Williams. Our backup in the team is Faf, who can cover another position – scrumhalf.
“If you have your third choice backup, a backup player in a specialist position, and he can only play one position, that takes the utility component out of our squad.
“I’m not saying it should work for all teams. However, in our team, it’s always nice if you’re third specialists – like our No.9s, where we’ve got four specialists – there can be utility players.
“For us, it works as a team, that is why we went with Deon Fourie and not with Joseph Dweba as a third choice [at hooker].
“Deon [Fourie] can cover multiple positions for us.
“That’s certainly something we will take into consideration.
“As I said, we will discuss it after the game is done [on Sunday].
“We will fully focus on the Romania, because I think we should show them that respect.
“We should also show that respect to the players that we selected to go and play in that match.
“So we’re not talking about anything other than Romania.”
Nienaber said he always regards himself as a ‘glass half full’ person, when asked about the impact of the injury.
“Sometimes injury or loss of form, gives [other] players the opportunity and then they become world stars.
“It is bad for the individual, but then it also creates opportunities for different players to step up and to get in.
“That’s the reality we have and that’s the reality we face and that’s the cards we’ve been dealt with.”