Handré Pollard will hardly expect perfection when he pulls the Springbok jersey over his head for the first time in 13 months on Sunday for the match against Tonga in Marseille.
“I’m going to be realistic about it. To go from playing 30 minutes of rugby a few weeks ago, to a test match in a World Cup, is quite a big leap”, admits the 29-year-old flyhalf.
“But I am confident in the way we are preparing. My expectations for myself are just to enjoy it, be myself and enjoy knowing that it’s not going to be perfect, but a chance to take myself to the next fight.”
Pollard also has full confidence in Manie Libbok and the team’s other kickers.
“There’s a lot of pressure on all the kickers at the moment because of the last few games, but when you see how much work those guys put in every single day, you know it’s going to work out any day.
“All the guys kicking in the team have all had 100% games in the past, even this year. We know we all have it in us. As a kicking unit we just have to stand together.
“I don’t talk to Manie too much because kicking is a personal thing. Too many voices can become very distracting. I’m always there for him if he needs any help, but he’s in good hands.
“He looks good and confident during training and I’m sure it will be alright.”
Sunday’s group game against Tonga will be Pollard’s first test since August last year after injuries kept him on the international sidelines for months. He was initially not included in the World Cup team, but was finally called up as a replacement for the injured hooker Malcolm Marx.
“It’s amazing to be back, back in this environment. It is a special place; a special environment to be a part of,” says Pollard.
“Getting a second chance is very nice and is something I try to enjoy every day.”
Pollard says his calf injury was supposed to keep him out of action for just four weeks. “But it ended up being almost three months. It was a very frustrating time, but that’s the body, that’s how it works.
“We tried our best to be fit as early as possible, but it just didn’t work out and then of course it was difficult not to be selected. But such is life.
“They always told us to stay positive and be ready and that’s exactly what I did.”