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Pollard to make Springboks debut

25th June 2014 11:10

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Handre Pollard SA U20 kicking practise 2014

Handré Pollard: Starts at 10

Bulls and SA U20 fly-half Handré Pollard will make his Test debut for the Springboks in Saturday's clash with Scotland in Port Elizabeth.

Pollard is one of five uncapped players who have been named in Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer matchday 23. In total, the Springbok starting team shows six changes from the side that beat Wales 31-30 in Nelspruit last weekend.

The four uncapped players on a new-look bench are Marcel van der Merwe (prop), Stephan Lewies (lock), Teboho 'Oupa' Mohoje (loose forward) and Marnitz Boshoff (fly-half). Also on the bench are Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Francois Hougaard and Zane Kirchner, none of whom have played any Test rugby yet this season.

Two players, Pollard and Marcell Coetzee, have not yet featured for the Springboks this year, while four of these are replacements who have been promoted to the starting team, namely Lwazi Mvovo, Schalk Burger, Lood de Jager and Coenie Oosthuizen.

Tendai Mtawarira (neck), Flip van der Merwe (knee) Willem Alberts (concussion) and Johan Goosen (knee) were not considered for selection this week.

Goosen has been released from the squad and has returned to Bloemfontein to continue his final phase rehabilitation at the Cheetahs.

"We had to make a number of changes to the team and while team selection is never easy, especially this week when we had to make a few hard decisions, it's been great to see the excitement under the players for this final Test of the series," said Meyer.

"Our plans had always been to try a few new combinations this week against Scotland and I'm looking forward to see the guys grab their opportunities."

Meyer said Pollard had always been part of his plans for the Incoming Series, but that his selection as SA U20 captain meant he could only join the squad this week.

"Handré is a very talented player and has a big opportunity this week, but he'll have Fourie du Preez's experience next to him, while he's played a lot with Jan Serfontein before," added Meyer.

"It's great to have the current and a former World Junior Player of the Year in the same back-line.

"The other new faces in the starting line-up have been part of our squad for some time and they all deserve a run."

On the composition of the bench, Meyer commented: "Adriaan, Trevor, Francois and Zane know what it's about while the other guys will bring energy and enthusiasm with them.

"All of them deserve this chance. 'Oupa' still played Varsity and Vodacom Cup rugby earlier this season before he got an opportunity to play Vodacom Super Rugby for the Cheetahs because of injuries. He took his chance and now he's on the cusp of making his Test debut," said Meyer.

"Marnitz and Marcel have shone for their franchises this year and patiently waited in the last couple of weeks, always working hard and putting in everything at our training sessions. Stephan only joined us on Monday, but he made an impression already at our training camp in Durban last month and slotted in without any problems this week.

"Marcel, Stephan, 'Oupa' and Marnitz all made their Super Rugby debuts earlier this year following injuries to other players and it's great to see so many younger players come through the ranks."

The Springboks will face a confident Scotland side on Saturday after they've beaten the USA, Canada and Argentina on tour in the last three weeks.

"They are always a tough opponent, like we saw last year in Nelspruit, but our aim is to build on the two victories over Wales in the last fortnight," said Meyer.

Meanwhile, Van der Merwe has joined a long list of injured players who will not play again this season after he was ruled out for six months following examination by specialists in Pretoria. He injured his posterior cruciate ligaments.

Mtawarira, who has a bulging disc in his neck and consulted with a specialist in Durban earlier this week, will be monitored for the next two weeks before a decision on his return to the field will be made.

The following players missed out on the entire or part of the Incoming Series because of injury: Jean de Villiers (knee), Damian de Allende (knee) Eben Etzebeth (foot), Jaque Fourie (ankle), Pat Lambie (bicep), Frans Malherbe (concussion), Scarra Ntubeni (foot), Pieter-Steph du Toit (knee), Franco van der Merwe (ankle), Arno Botha (knee), Pierre Spies (bicep), Louis Schreuder (hand), Gio Aplon (elbow), Juan de Jongh (pneumonia), Mtawarira, Van der Merwe, Alberts and Goosen.

Seven players based in France and England have been released to their clubs and were not available for selection this week. they are They are Gurthrö Steenkamp, Schalk Brits, Bakkies Botha, Francois Louw, Morné Steyn, Wynand Olivier and Bryan Habana.

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Stephan Lewies, 20 Teboho Mohoje, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Marnitz Boshoff, 23 Zane Kirchner.

Date: Saturday, June 28
Kick-off: 17:00 local (16:00 BST, 15:00 GMT)
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Television match official: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)
Assessor: Donal Courtney (Ireland)

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