Fly half Handre Pollard replaces injured hooker Malcolm Marx in Springboks squad

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

South Africa have called up fly half Handre Pollard to replace the injured hooker Malcolm Marx in their Rugby World Cup squad.

Marx had his tournament ended by a knee injury earlier this week, with the Springboks declining to immediately name a replacement.

After thrashing Romania, though, head coach Jacques Nienaber has confirmed that Pollard has been called into his 33-player group.

Having started with regular hooker Bongi Mbonambi in Bordeaux, the versatile Deon Fourie and flanker Marco van Staden were utilised in the heart of the front row, leaving Nienaber content he had enough cover at the position.

“We are confident with the cover we have at hooker with Bongi Mbonambi and Deon Fourie, and Marco van Staden has been slotting in the position since our alignment camps in February, so we opted to call up Handre, who has been in our system for years and who was a member of our team in 2019 when we won the World Cup,” Nienaber explained.

Hooker Joseph Dweba had been placed on standby by the Springboks ahead of the tournament, with Van Staden, who had not played the position since he was a schoolboy, trusted as an emergency option.

Pollard had been a surprise omission from the initial 33 after battling injuries during the warm-up fixtures.

The 29-year-old, South Africa’s starting ten in their tournament triumph four years ago, featured off the bench for Leicester Tigers in their Premiership Rugby Cup against Sale on Friday night.

“[Pollard has] been working hard to return to full fitness, and we are pleased that he now has some game time under his belt for his club, and this will allow him to slot back into the team,” Nienaber continued.

“We’ll work closely with him in the next week to get him back up to speed and back into the full swing of things, and we have no doubt he’ll step up to the challenge. He’s been here before so he knows the physical and mental demands of the World Cup.”

The Springboks next face Ireland in a crunch Pool B fixture in Paris next Saturday.

Manie Libbok has established himself as Nienaber’s first choice first half in Pollard’s absence, while Damian Willemse started the win against Romania, although both have struggled from the tee at points.