Flying half Handré Pollard has been called up to the South Africa squad for the remainder of the 2023 World Cup to replace hooker Malcolm Marx, who has a knee injury, the South African Federation announced on Sunday.
A great architect of the Springboks' world title four years ago with 22 points scored in the final against England (32-12), Pollard, 29, was excluded from the initial selection due to a calf injury.
The former Montpellier player (2019-2022), now at Leicester, returned to the field on Friday with the Tigers. He will join his selection on Monday in Paris, five days before the Group B clash against Ireland at the Stade de France.
In the absence of Marx, the outgoing world champions only had one pure specialist in the hooker position, Bongi Mbonambi, captain on Sunday against Romania (76-0) before leaving at the start of the 2nd half . Two other players took over the position after his exit: Deon Fourie after the break then Marco van Staden during the last twenty minutes.
“We are confident in the coverage we have of the hooker position with Bongi Mbonambi and Deon Fourie, and Marco van Staden has occupied this position since our training sessions in February,” explained coach Jacques Nienaber in the press release from his Federation.
Until then, the latter only had one opener in his squad, Manie Libbok, who was rather inconsistent against the poles. On Sunday, Damian Willemse, considered a full-back, started with No.10 before Faf De Klerk, trained scrum-half, replaced him before the hour mark.