The serious and potential season-ending knee injury that Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard picked up last weekend while playing for Montpellier could force Bok coach Jacques Nienaber to spread his net far wider than initially thought.
It was confirmed on Monday by Montpellier that Pollard will be out for "several months" after he suffered a raptured anterior cruciate ligament, following a scan on his swollen knee. He is expected to go under the knife pending specialist opinion.
While the Boks must still confirm whether they will participate in the Rugby Championship – slated to be held in Australia in November and December – Nienaber will now, possibly, have to look at a few different options when he considers a replacement for Pollard.
Here are some of the candidates:
Elton Jantjies: Although some still question his composure at Test level, Jantjies is the most obvious choice to fill in for Pollard after being the understudy for the Bok pivot at last year's World Cup tournament in Japan. He is also vastly experienced, having been part of the Bok setup for seven years, while as Lions captain he is widely acknowledged for his leadership abilities.
Curwin Bosch: Having earned his first and only Test cap a few years ago in Port Elizabeth against Scotland, a promising future was predicted for the talented flyhalf. However, a question mark about his defence and a lack of game time behind Robert du Preez at the Sharks delayed his progress, but earlier this year he was in great form in Super Rugby and showed he has maybe reached maturity in his career.
Damian Willemse: For too long he has been shoved around between 10 and 15, but now that Stormers coach John Dobson is only going to use him at 10, he will hopefully grow more into the role. Having initially missed out on World Cup selection due to injury he was later called up as replacement for the injured Jesse Kriel and having earned his medal, he is set to showcase his ability to make the next step-up.
Frans Steyn: The two-time World Cup winner is probably the most experienced of the lot and even though he has only been used at centre and fullback over the last few years, he would be a more than competent solution in the short term, while his deadly accurate boot and the massive distances he gets with his touchline kicks, count heavily in his favour. He would also serve as a motivator and guide for the the younger pivots.
Robert du Preez: Having produced the goods at Currie Cup and Super Rugby level, first for the Stormers and then the Sharks, he made his Test debut in 2018 in the one-off Test against Wales in Washington, but has been overlooked since then. Solid performances, however, since he joined the Sale Sharks in England late last year, have again shifted the focus on him.
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