Pollard - an evaluation of his approach to the game

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Apr 04, 2017, 13:12

The following from AOR:-

"Hi guys, this past weekend was a great few days of rugby, especially because I was privilege to be at Ellis Park with the passionate Lion supporters to watch the wonderful Sharks game. What a lekker experience and performance from both teams! And in Hamilton earlier that day, the Bulls lost but show lot more focus and intent against the Chiefs.

This game was also interesting because the Bulls defence was much better, but then on attack sometimes they just did not always click. One thing they did that work well was that they “changed direction” often after a ruck – so they play one way but then at the next ruck they switch and play back the other way, especially after a set piece. I am sure this was pre-planned for how the Chiefs defenders fold from ruck to ruck. Often the first receiver with this switches was the excellent Burger Odendaal who many times find space on the short side.

But on a few other occasions when the Bulls was playing more traditional off 10, from ruck to ruck, the backs did not seem to be able to make anything happen.

When I had a closer look I notice that sometimes the problem seem to be Handre who often stand too deep, or should I say he distribute too deep. Take a look at the picture below.


Handre is about to pass the ball but he do it so early that the aggressive Chiefs defenders can now just change direction and attack the remaining Bulls runners. It is like a hospital pass for his whole backline.

If Handre was taking the ball flatter, or if he was coming up faster and playing later, then there is more mystery and the inside Chief defenders must stay where they are to see what is going to develop. We take away their time. It is no use to run your moves early and deep, and the opposition can just wait and watch and then attack the final receiver.

Below is a example of nice flatness and running onto the ball by Lood of all people. Take a look.   Now I know you are thinking that this is a big claim to make. I am in the essence saying that Handre can not fulfil the role of a modern flyhalf. But guys, what if I tell you that I notice this tendency in Handre two years ago and that I collected some video clips of it back then already because I find it so interesting.

Handre will take the ball flat, but when he have to pick a runner he mess up the pass or he will rather just not pass at all and go into contact. Below is three quick examples from old games


Now I know you are thinking that this is a big claim to make. I am in the essence saying that Handre can not fulfil the role of a modern flyhalf. But guys, what if I tell you that I notice this tendency in Handre two years ago and that I collected some video clips of it back then already because I find it so interesting.

Handre will take the ball flat, but when he have to pick a runner he mess up the pass or he will rather just not pass at all and go into contact. Below is three quick examples from old games.



So I will stick my neck out and say that Handre is not a guy who is able to play flat. It is not fear – we know he is hell of a tough guy. I feel it is a mental and perception thing that some guys is able to do and some not.

When he is presented with multiple options, with crowded space, under pressure, he is often unable to make a quick choice and execute his decision effectively. It is as if there is too much going on. And as I say, his “fail safe” often is just rather to take contact and not pass at all.

I know what I am saying and I do not take it lightly. I am saying that he possibly lack an important skill that is needed to be a international flyhalf. A 10 must be able to vary his depth and play deep and flat and bring his strike options into play right at the faces of the opposition.

Maybe coaches can work with him, maybe it is something that will come with time, and of course maybe I am totally wrong!

But when I ask myself why Handre don’t play flatter, and when I look at the evidence I have seen over the years, this game finally cement it for me that it is not something I feel he can do effectively. It is something that sometimes burden the Bulls backs, and I am sure we do not want it to burden the Bok backs.

Take care guys, and we will chat again soon.”


Looking at the above and especially the high-lighted paragraphs worry me a lot.   Have we got a duplicate of Morne Steyn here - if he is in fact a clone of Morne - even with the best of efforts he will inevitably fail and  will in fact neutralize  any backline play - ie a failure of the pivot.

Apr 04, 2017, 14:07

IMO Pollard is playing cautiously in that he is trying to minimize contact because of his recovery from injury. I think we will see him play flatter once he is fully recovered.

Apr 04, 2017, 14:16

Cruden still craps himself to this day- when Pollard was playing flat. 

Apr 04, 2017, 14:36

 A tad harsh Mike.

He's a young lad who has already proved that he's got what it takes. 

Let's allow him some more time back in the game and to be fully fit before we disregard him. He has come from a difficult year out and straight back into the toughest league in the world after all.

Apr 04, 2017, 14:59

Pollard was not great preceding his injury, and not much has changed post injury. I don't know if the flair is being coached out of him or what, but he has not had a really good game in more than two years. I still believe he has the talent, but FFS, its time we saw it, or made peace with the fact that we need to move on.  

Apr 04, 2017, 15:45

 Plum it is not that I am in favour of discarding Pollard.   He seems to have been under the influence of he wrong coaches.    I think from what I remember as a junior and even in his early tests and Super Rugby games he had the ability to read games and take decisions.   That seems to be gone after Ludeke and Meyer got hold of him. 

I think that there is some hope.   If Franco Smith could turn around Zeilinga into a top class flyhalf he should have much less problems in turning around Pollard.   I am also optimistic that Pollard will another new management and not donkey Marais and also proper captaincy will make him a different.

However. that is if we can also get rid of whatever influence Coetzee has on the game plan.    

Apr 04, 2017, 16:36

In my opinion, he is the #1 fly-half for the Boks. 

Good boot, physically strong, attacking skills and above all, he is not scared.

Unfortunately, his game will be decided by the morons who manage the squad.

Apr 04, 2017, 16:44


Decision-making deficiency is a problem where decent coaching can help massively,    However, the problem is that for the last thee years Pollard was coached by Ludeke and Meyer.    Both had a game plan where skills are coached out of players.

For instance in the WC last year more balls were passed to loosies - they became the first receivers - and whenever Pollard got the ball he had to kick it and passing of the ball was extremely limited.

Coaching deficiency caused the decline in Pollard and I hope that it can be restored.   

Apr 04, 2017, 19:20

Who is this guy Manual who is the Bulls backline coach?   Has he ever played a game of rugby on professional level? 

Jan 16, 2023, 23:02

Another classic Clever predicting Pollard doesn’t have the ingredients to be an international flyhalf

Jan 16, 2023, 23:35

Mike is speaking utter horse shit

Pollard is and always has been a class act

Jan 17, 2023, 04:32

So Michael has a hatred of the Bulls. That explains at least some of his nonsense. I think I read something about Swiel being better than Pollard. The Three Stooges of Ruckers seem incapable of making good calls! :D

Jan 17, 2023, 11:54

You picked this up from 2017.   I still think he was coached to play crap rugby destroying his natural talent by Meyer and Ludeke.   Both were shit coaches when it came to backline play anyway.   Meyer himself said that SA players do not have the skill to play a ball-in-hand game - and his coaching consisted of the Morne kind of game - never to use backline attacks and kicking the leather off the ball.   Pollard played a different game altogether when he was giving proper coaching.   Fact is Erasmus asked Pollard how he prefer to play bearing in mind attacking backline play and he submitted comments on the issue - which was discussed and approved by the whole team.   That brought a new level of coaching to enable him to be a top class flyhalf as was evident in 2018 and 2019. 

Pollard had some injury problems in 2021 and 2022 - that had an impact on his recent performances - but that would inevitably improve sooner rather than later.               

Jan 17, 2023, 12:18

Pollard's production was best under Meyer. Also, Willie's was better too, much better. Damian's best season was under Coetzee, and then Meyer. No matter how you look at it, the Erasputin years have not been very good. It would help if you did your research before posting Michael. It's an insult to others to think that you can make it all up and demand they accept it. 

Jan 17, 2023, 19:44

He himself did not agree with you.    He did not like what Meyer wanted from him and was quite clear about it.   Meyer had no idea about backline play - for him the flyhalfs were there to kick balls and the backline was there to defend only.   


Jan 17, 2023, 19:51

Pollard? The last well rounded modern attacking game we had was under Meyer. Pollard's production under Meyer was much better. No attacking player is thriving under Erasputin. Pollard does seem to have bought into the garbage sadly. Defending the ugly kicking. He said he doesn't care how we play if we win. But we aren't dominating, now are we. Pollard has been ordinary under Erasputin. He hasn't had one great test since the Scotland win in 2018. In fact, he has been outplayed by every opposite 10 since then. You cannot argue with facts. Look at the WC, every time the Boks tried to throw the ball around handling errors ensued, well above the average for the top teams. Last year's attack? Look at the bumbled passes, the poorly timed runs, or the frantic running into dead ends. There's no plan to advance the ball and the players are struggling more and more to see the field. Am's intuition has been coached out of him. Erasputin is a control freak and likes to script everything. 

Jan 18, 2023, 00:00

 The last well rounded modern attacking game we had was under Meyer. 

Anybody who believes the above does not know what attacking game means.   In the Meyer era there was not even any idea about playing attacking rugby.   Attacking rugby means playing of 15 man-rugby and Meyer himself said such a game was impossible since the Springbok backline lacks ball skills to play a ball-in-hand game.

So how the hell could attacking rugby be played under such circumstances?   You refuse to take not of camparison of tries scored in the Era and under Erasmus compared to Erasmus,   In 2019 the Springbok backline players scored more tries than the whole Meyer team did in 2015.    The Springboks were never  ranked in 2018 as 6th or 7th in the world - another idiotic lie concoted by you.    At the end of 2018 the ranking was 5.   At the end of 2017 the general ranking was 7th in the world.   I gave you the reference as to rankings before and the worst rankings since 2000 was the Springboks being 7th in the world in both 2016 and 2017.   

Meyer had some real records in especially the EOYT in 2014- where 2 matches were won and 2 lost,   Meyer teams lost for the first time against  Argentina in Durban and the famous Japan disaster in the WC.    In the period  November 2014 to September 2015 the Springboks played 8 matches of which the Springboks won 3.    Ater the Japan disaster we were ranked 6 in the world.    The Meyer record was piss-poor and SARU advised him that his contract will not be extended and an application by him for extension  would be ignored.

Meyer ended up as coach of Stadxe Francais and after given @% million Euro to contract players he ended up spending the money on sub-standard players and nearly destroyed the Club - when Stade was bottom of the Top 14 log with 12 matches played Stade won 2.    The owner asked Meyer to resign otherwise they would fire him.   There were similarities  between the Springbok and Stade Francais.    He was well on his way to destry both the Springboks and Stade Francais when his appointment in both cases actually implied him effectively be fred by both SARU and the owner of Stade.   

The pool combinations for the RWC in 2019 were based on the rankings in September 2017.   The 4 top ranked countries headed the various pools.   SA then was ranked 7 and during the draw we ended up in the pool headed by the AB's.    After that the Springboks lost against Italy in 2017 and that caused major damage to their ranking position as well.

Jan 18, 2023, 00:14

Actually it was Mallett who said we don’t have the talent to play against the NZ backs. And this thread is but one of many attacks on Pollard by Clever….now he tries to slime out of it by saying the coaches couldn’t bring out his talent. When he actually said:

 Have we got a duplicate of Morne Steyn here - if he is in fact a clone of Morne - even with the best of efforts he will inevitably fail and  will in fact neutralize  any backline play - ie a failure of the pivot.’


Perhaps the most stupid thing Clever has ever said, and he has a library full of painfully dumb remarks

Jan 18, 2023, 07:11


Mallett may have said it sometime - but Meyer said it clearly while he was coach in 2015.   Playing Morne at flyhalf is the end of backline play.  His kicking game was all he offered.    What did Hansen said about that issue before the 2014 test won by the Springboks despite a desperate attempt by Matfield to lose the game.   Hansen said that "We know what to expect from Morne - we do not know what Pollard will bring to the game".

Stupid things on rugby are your preserve.   You said 90% of the role of a flyhalf is to kick balls - that is why he was an absolute failure as a flyhalf.   That is why Stade Francais used Morne as their bench flyhalf.

Under Meyer Pollock was in and out of the starting flyhalf position as starter.   After the Japan disaster of  2015 Pollock started in every test - but was forced into playing the Morne game - kick the shit out of balls and nothing else.   In 2016 he played no rugby for a year,   When he came back  from injury in 2017 Coetzee - whom you in your stupidity supported all out - used him a few times as bench flyhalf in a desperately poor situation and like Meyer Coetzee tried to turn him into a poor player. 

When Erasmus became coach he realized that Pollard was mismanaged totally by his predecessors and asked him to prepare a document about how he sees the roll of the flyhalf in both attacking and defensive play.    Pollard gave him that report and after discussion of it at team meetings the concept was accepted and that turned around Pollards game 100% from a failed flyhalf into a successful one. 

As an admirer of the aimless kicking game Morne was your ideal flyhalf - as a pivot he was absolutely useless.  FACT       



Jan 18, 2023, 12:29

I've asked him for quotes before and he can't produce them. I never heard Meyer say any such thing. He likes to paraphrase loosely

Jan 18, 2023, 17:19

He pretty much just says whatever comes into his head….the more interesting question is whether he actually then believes he read it somewhere.

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