Paris — Handré Pollard’s body may be as familiar with a scalpel as it is with a fork, but he has not felt better for a long while.
"It is the best I’ve felt in the last two years. It’s funny but it’s true. I feel great. I don’t have any pain. I trained today [Tuesday] without any strapping. It was like a minivictory on its own."
He explained his orthopaedic upheaval of the past two years.
"It was shoulder, knee, complications in the shoulder because of infection, then my ankle and more complications."
Pollard’s restoration to full fitness has been duly noted and he is likely to start in the No10 jersey when the Boks hope to get the spring back in their step against France on Saturday.
Elton Jantjies has not been his assertive self and the swagger has all but departed from his game since occupying a deeper role in the Bok set-up.
When he plays flat as flyhalf for the Lions he poses more threat to the defensive line.
Pollard can operate in either space and he also brings more kicking metres when they need to reach touch. He also is a sturdier presence in defence, despite the reputational damage it suffered at the shoulder of Anton Lienert-Brown.
Pollard takes it to the line in a different way but he insists it does not need much adaptation.
"Those differences are there but in the bigger picture, it is not a big deal. The okes will adapt. We have both been training long enough with the team. It will be easy for the boys to adapt."
He does not know whether he will start but insists he is ready for whatever comes his way. " Calmness and composure are needed from me."
In fact, the same characteristics will have to permeate the entire Bok set-up if they are to bounce back from their performance against Ireland.
Invoking the same passion and commitment that brought them within a whisker of beating the All Blacks at Newlands in October will be the key at the Stade de France.
"I sense in these conditions you have to do it in a calmer way. More controlled, focused and accurately. The conditions play a big role.
"That desperation mentality, how the boys have been training the last two days is the same feeling we had in Cape Town.
"We are going to have to be more clinical out there. We need to do the basics better and the moments of magic will come.
"For some guys, it might be nice to be playing at home with people being on their case but other guys might like it here. We have to fight for each other. There is no one here with a shoulder to cry on. We’ve got each other.
"I like this," he said about confronting the challenge away from home. "I think it is the toughest challenge having to bounce back in the northern hemisphere after what happened last week.
"Heads were hanging on Sunday, which is understandable. It was very disappointing but that is the thing about a young squad. They don’t dwell on stuff like that for too long."