Paarl Gym flyhalf Handre Pollard will replace the injured Johan Goosen in the SA U20 squad to compete at the Junior World Championship.
Pollard received a surprise call-up from Baby Boks head coach Dawie Theron last week as his troops gathered in Cape Town for their final training camp ahead of the tournament, which will be staged in Stellenbosch and Bellville from 4-22 June.
The 18-year-old and Sharks XV flyhalf Fred Zeilinga had trial run in a practice match against Hamiltons U20 last Wednesday, to see who would replace teenage sensation Goosen, who suffered a shoulder injury during the Cheetahs’ Super Rugby campaign.
The schoolboy had an impressive outing, and has been rewarded with place in the final squad. Pollard will likely provide cover for Blue Bulls Vodacom Cup and U21 pivot Tony Jantjies, brother of Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies.
‘I was very impressed with the way Handre stepped up to a more senior level last week,’ Theron told Schoolboy Derby. ‘He coped physically and mentally, and played a hand in several of our tries. I liked the way he combined with the centres, especially [former SA Schools captain and current Springbok Sevens star] William Small-Smith.’
Pollard will become the first schoolboy to represent South Africa at the Junior World Championship.
Theron has also added Free State wing Raymond Rhule and Golden Lions scrumhalf Vian van der Watt to the squad in place of the injured Dean Hammond (WP) and Kevin Luiters (Free State) respectively.
‘I am confident that all three players will do well. They are very talented and slotted in with ease since they joined us last week,’ said Theron.
Final Baby Bok squad for Junior World Championship:
Backs – Marais Schmidt, Dillyn Leyds, Travis Ismaiel, Raymond Rhule, Tshotsho Mbovane, William Small-Smith, Paul Jordaan, Patrick Howard, Jan Serfontein, Tony Jantjies, Handrè Pollard, Vian van der Watt, Abrie Griesel.
Forwards - Wiaan Liebenberg (c), Shaun Adendorff, Khaya Majola, Braam Steyn, Fabian Booysen, Pieter Steph du Toit, Ruan Botha, Paul Willemse, Marvin Orie, Maks van Dyk, Allan Dell, Oliver Kebble, Steven Kitshoff, Mark Pretorius, Jason Thomas.
By Gareth Duncan