14 May 2014
Vodacom Bulls flyhalf Handre Pollard will captain the Junior Springboks at the 2014 IRB Junior World Championship (JWC) in New Zealand in June, South Africa under-20 coach Dawie Theron announced on Tuesday.
EP Kings’ number eight Aidon Davis and Vodacom Blue Bulls’ fullback Jesse Kriel were confirmed as the two vice-captains.
Third consecutive JWC tournament
Pollard will be competing in his third consecutive JWC tournament and brings a wealth of experience to the squad, having made his Junior Bok debut in South Africa’s successful 2012 campaign on home soil.
This season, Pollard has delivered consistently good performances for the Vodacom Bulls in their Vodacom Super Rugby campaign. He also recently toured New Zealand and Australia with the Pretoria franchise, which added to his playing experience.
A natural choice
Theron, the Junior Springbok coach, said Pollard was a natural choice for the role of leader of the team.
“Handre has grown tremendously and made great strides as a player since making his debut for the SA under-20s two years ago,” Theron said in a statement.
“He will, no doubt, command the respect of his team, both with his ability to dictate play from the flyhalf position and his natural leadership skills. With the assistance of Aidon and Jesse as vice-captains, I believe we have a very strong leadership core in the group.”
Two years ago, in front of a record crowd for a JWC final, the Junior Springboks beat New Zealand 22-16 at Newlands in Cape Town in a pulsating encounter. Last year, the team staged a memorable comeback from 0-21 down to beat overcome the Kiwis 41-34 to secure third spot in France.
Theron said Pollard’s experience of playing in and against New Zealand would be a great benefit to the squad: “Handre has had great success against nations such as New Zealand and England at this level, which is invaluable experience he will bring to his team mates,” Theron reckoned.
A highlight and special moment
Pollard said he was looking forward to representing the Junior Boks in New Zealand. “It’s an honour to represent your country and each time you pull on that jersey is a highlight and special moment. I am thankful for the confidence and leadership role that the coach has entrusted to me and I am looking forward to play in New Zealand with a very special group of players,” he said.
The former Paarl Gymnasium captain could end the tournament as the highest career points’ scorer in the tournament’s history and also the most capped Junior Springbok at the JWC. Pollard has scored 76 points after playing in two JWC tournament so far, 42 points less than leading tournament points’ scorer Englishman Tom Homer.
Series victory over Argentina
The Junior Springboks completed a 3-0 series win over Argentina at the weekend and the 28-man squad will reassemble at their training camp in Stellenbosch on Sunday.
The JWC takes place from 2 to 20 June in New Zealand. South Africa is in Pool C with Samoa, Scotland and the hosts, New Zealand.