By Andrew Baldock, PA Rugby Union Correspondent
Handre Pollard says South Africa “will not take a step back” as they prepare to meet Wales’ physical approach head-on in the second Test.
The series opener last weekend was decided by a Damian Willemse penalty with the game’s final kick as South Africa edged home 32-29.
The teams meet again in Bloemfontein on Saturday, when World Cup winner Pollard returns to international action after helping Montpellier land the French Top 14 title.
— Springboks (@Springboks) July 8, 2022
He has also been handed the captaincy by head coach Jacques Nienaber, leading a Springboks side showing 14 changes following the dramatic success at Loftus Versfeld.
“We know Wales will get under our skin, but we will not take a step back,” fly-half Pollard said. “In fact, that usually brings the best out of us.
“Wales are a tough team. They don’t go away and they are physical, but we are prepared for that.
“They also have a good tactical game, so it is going to be hard Test rugby, but if there is space out wide we will try to take it.”
Handre Pollard has been steering the ship from @JuniorBoks to @Springboks
The fly-half will be looking to make it two from two when South Africa welcome Wales to Bloemfontein on Saturday pic.twitter.com/R4zm31ohpA
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) July 8, 2022
The Springboks have never lost to Wales in South Africa, but many pundits feel that record is under serious threat following Nienaber’s team selection.
Although Pollard and former world player of the year Pieter-Steph du Toit are among those recalled, South Africa go into action without star men like Cheslin Kolbe, Damian de Allende, Faf de Klerk and Siya Kolisi.
“There are a lot of new faces in the squad, but every player deserves his spot as they all played for their franchises and clubs, and we will have enough experience on the field as a group,” Pollard added.
“I think it is important to give the young guys an opportunity to play in such big games because it can only benefit them in future.
“This group of players has trained together for the last two weeks, and we have built cohesion in the squad.”
Springboks assistant coach Mzwandile Stick, meanwhile, rubbished suggestions that Nienaber had effectively chosen a second team.
“In all honesty, calling this team a B team is disrespecting the emblem,” Stick said.
“We have 42 players in the squad, they have all played well for their clubs and, somehow, we have to give them opportunities.
“We do not have a B team, we have a good balance of guys who have been around and others who have been in form, and we feel it is important to get that balance right.”