SPRINGBOKS fly-half Handré Pollard will be part of the Vodacom Bulls squad which arrives in the country today ahead of next week’s high profile pre-season friendly against the Cheetahs despite being doubtful for the start of the new Super Rugby season with a shoulder injury.
The Bulls will play their fellow South Africans rivals, the Cheetahs in the Lafarge Zimbabwe Champions Cup at the National Sports Stadium on February 6, in preparation for the revamped 18-team Super Rugby competition which starts next month.
Pollard picked up the shoulder injury during last year’s Rugby World Cup pool match against Scotland in England before further aggravating the injury while playing club rugby in Japan.
However the event organisers, Kyros Sports, yesterday said the 21-year-old young star would accompany the Pretoria-based franchise during their stay in Zimbabwe as he continues with his rehabilitation.
“Handré Pollard is injured but he will be coming with the rest of the Bulls side as he continues with his rehabilitation,” Kisset Chirengende, the founder and director of Kyros Sports yesterday.
“While he might not play, he is expected to take part in other activities such as coaching clinics for young players. As for the composition of the Blue Bulls and Cheetahs sides we can assure local rugby fans that they will both be bringing their full strength sides, with a total of 15 capped Springboks in both sides,”
Pollard will be part of a star-studded Bulls contingent that includes 12 capped Springboks players such as Trevor Nyakane, Marcel van der Merwe, Banise Maku, Adriaan Strauss, Arno Botha, Rudy Paige, Piet van Zyl, Jesse Kriel, Dean Greyling, Werner Kruger and Bjorn Basson.
The three-time Super Rugby champions are expected to head to Victoria Falls for a pre-season camp before returning to the capital on February 1 where they are expected to carry out a number of coaching clinics at local schools.
Meanwhile, the Cheetahs, who were home to former Sables flyhalf Kennedy Tsimba, are only expected in the capital on February 5, just a day before the match.
Cheetahs’ coach Franco Smith told SuperSport.com on Wednesday that his charges would be taking their pre-season encounter against the Bulls seriously he seeks to come up with the right combinations ahead of the new season.
“We will be well prepared contact-wise. The important thing is that the players get confidence in what we are doing,” Smith said.
“What we want in these games is not for players to prove who is and who isn’t good enough — these aren’t trials. We are going to go out there and prepare everyone as well as we can in terms of game intensity as we are going into the competition two weeks later,” he said.