JOHANNESBURG – The Sharks will have to rattle the Bulls’ weapon of choice in the form of Handre Pollard if they wanted to reverse a losing trend against their Pretoria foes tomorrow.
Bulls coach Pote Human has made no secret about the fact that Pollard plays a central role in his team’s tactical decision making. Pollard is pretty much the focal point in the Bulls’ game plan as they do not only rely on him for his metronomic goal-kicking, but also tactical decision making.
But Pollard is only as good as the quality ball he gets, which of course does not only apply to him as it is one of the fundamental principles in rugby.
Human knows this full well and that is why so much emphasis has been placed on the Bulls pack getting that ascendency up front.
When the Bulls pack battled against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires, Pollard’s performance suffered as a consequence leading to the team’s tactical game imploding. Pollard would obviously be a marked man, but to get to him the Sharks will first have to get past the Bulls’ brutish bunch of forwards and that is no easy feat.
“Any game is won and lost up front which just makes it easier for the backline players where Polly (Pollard) takes over and decides whether we run or kick,” Human said this week. “I think the way we played against the Stormers and the Lions last weekend is the way we want to play.
“It is also what the opposition presents to you and we want to play what is on, that is for Handre to decide on the field.”
Pollard is expected to once again play a pivotal role for his team for a number of reasons as he earns his 50th Super Rugby cap for the Bulls.
He has also been given the added responsibility of leading the team into battle on a more full-time basis after skipper Lood de Jager was ruled out for the rest of the campaign due to a shoulder injury.
The compounded responsibilities have done little to rattle the Springbok flyhalf who seems to relish the opportunity to demonstrate his nerves of steel.
“It is not extra weight, we still have a good leadership group even though we lost Lood as our captain,” Pollard said.
“We have a great group of leaders and it has always been almost like a group role, it was never just Lood making all the calls or just me.”