Pollard to lead Vodacom Bulls in Brisbane battle
Handré Pollard will lead the Vodacom Bulls from the flyhalf position when they take on the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday.
Pollard took over the captaincy from injured Burger Odendaal last weekend in their Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Emirates Lions and will continue in that role as the regular captain only returned to training this week.
Pollard will start as pivot though, where he comes in for Marnitz Boshoff, after starting at centre against the Emirates Lions. Johnny Kotze will fill the vacancy left by Pollard at inside centre. Duncan Matthews will replace Kotze, who scored in both matches of the tournament so far on the left wing, while Warrick Gelant comes into the backline to start at fullback. He swops places with Divan Rossouw, who moves to the bench.
Up front, Vodacom Bulls Head Coach, John Mitchell, moved Nick de Jager to no8, with Hanro Liebenberg moving to the side of the scrum, in place of Thembelani Bholi, who drops out of the match 23 altogether. Jason Jenkins will take De Jager’s place on the bench. Jenkins will make his first appearance in this year’s competition when he takes to the field.
The coach also added Trevor Nyakane to the bench in place on Conraad van Vuuren.
“We have a long way to go still, but there are good fundamentals in place at this stage of the race. We have not played in Brisbane since 2013, so it will be a new experience for most of the team. That should create some energy, but I have no doubt that the importance of a good start to our tour will also perk up the players,” Mitchell said.
“We have done very well in certain areas of the game so far, but the reality is that our away record is poor. This is something we need to change if we want to become the team we want to be.”
Pollard was optimistic, despite the Reds chasing a second win in as many matches.
“We come into this match well prepared. The coaching staff can only do so much, it is also up to the players to execute and deliver. We have seen glimpses of what we can do; the challenge this week will be to deliver an all-round element to our game. We face a formidable opponent, but believe in who we are and what we can do as a squad.”
The team (with Super Rugby caps and points) is: Warrick Gelant (20; 25); Travis Ismaiel (30; 45), Jesse Kriel (47; 35), Johnny Kotze (21; 15), Duncan Matthews (5; 15), Handré Pollard (c, 33; 304), Andre Warner (4; 0), Nick de Jager (v/c, 20; 15), Hanro Liebenberg (20; 15), Roelof Smit (15; 5), Lood de Jager (52; 15), RG Snyman (27; 10), Frans van Wyk (4; 0), Jaco Visagie (22; 5), Pierre Schoeman (26, 10). Replacements: Adriaan Strauss (145; 70), Lizo Gqoboka (28, 10), Trevor Nyakane (81; 15), Jason Jenkins (28; 25), Marco van Staden (2; 0), Embrose Papier (2; 0), Marnitz Boshoff (31; 246), Divan Rossouw (2; 0).