Springbok flyhalf and vice-captain Handre Pollard says that the Boks trust their own processes to such an extent that no critics or outside influence can upset the equilibrium of the team.
The Springboks will be in action this Saturday against Argentina in the second test of the Rugby Championship in Gqeberha.
Despite being the reigning world champions, the reigning rugby championship champions, and fresh from an epic British and Irish Lions series win, the Boks continue to be labelled as a boring side.
They scored all the tries last week against Argentina in the first test as well, and yet critics are queueing up to tell Jacques Nienaber and his side that they’re producing some of the most insipid rugby ever witnessed in the professional era.
First choice flyhalf and chief orchestrator of the Bok gameplan Pollard knows how to deflect the numerous slings and arrows directed at his team.
“It is what it is. Everybody has got their own way that they believe is the right way to play rugby for us. It is not about entertaining; it is about winning test matches. Test match rugby is about winning and at the moment we are doing pretty well in that regard. So for now if it is not broken then don’t fix it, we’ll just keep doing what we are doing. People will criticise us as much as they want. We believe in it and that is the only thing that matters.”
Line up for Argentina face-off
For the second test against Argentina, the bulk of the first-choice backline players are back.
Pollard starts at flyhalf, Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am return to the midfield, while Makazole Mapimpi, Cheslin Kolbe and Willie le Roux make up the back three.
Part of what makes this Bok team tick is their approach, so instead of players being dropped or rotated, the Boks say their role in the team has changed.
It’s a subconscious way of making sure all players feel included all the time.
“The way we prepare and what Jacques said last week we just have role changes, it is not rest or squad rotation, it is role changes. So we did everything we can last week to prepare the boys to be at their best on Saturday and the same for those guys this week who are not playing. So it’s not that hard. In every meeting you still stay focused as much as you can,” says Pollard.
And while World Rugby is trailing the 50-22 rule, which gives teams an attacking lineout in the opponent’s 22 when kicking the ball to touch with at least one bounce from their own half, it’s not something the Boks say will affect their gameplan.
It would be nice if the opportunity presents itself, but not something to fixate on.
“It’s not something we are going to go looking for, if it happens it’s great, it’s a bargain but we are not going to adapt our way of playing our kicking game. We are going to stick to what we do, what we believe in. If the opportunity presents itself, we are going to go for it and possibly take it but it’s not something we are going to put a lot of focus on at the moment,” says Pollard.
The Boks are also back to their patented 6-2 split on the bench, with Damian Willemse and Jaden Hendrickse as back-up, meaning that most of the backs will be putting in a full 80-minute shift this weekend.