Paris — "It’s the right time‚" coach Allister Coetzee said‚ explaining Handré Pollard’s inclusion in the Springbok starting team to play France on Saturday.
The coach needs a near miracle and he has introduced big-game players in Pollard and Duane Vermeulen to help lift his team’s flagging fortunes.
Pollard‚ who suffered one orthopaedic mishap after the other since the beginning of the last season‚ will be in the starting team for the first time since the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Coetzee believes this is the moment to unleash the pivot who has been waiting in the wings for a start since he recovered from injury during the Rugby Championship.
He did not cover himself in glory against the All Blacks in Albany in New Zealand but Pollard has since found his feet and replaces Elton Jantjies.
"He is looking sharp at training‚" Coetzee noted.
The coach needs his squad to be reinvigorated after last weekend’s defeat in Dublin and the inclusion of Pollard and Vermeulen is aimed at getting them on the front foot.
Last week against Ireland, the Boks took too many steps back in the collision.
Both possess broad shoulders and have thrust in their stride. The coach is also keen for his team not to get bogged down in their own territory.
While Jantjies has a box of tricks up his sock with his clever dinks and cross kicks‚ Pollard possess an assertive boot when he aims for touch.
It can provide respite and opportunity and the coach unapologetically favours distance this week.
"I am pleased with Elton’s development effort this year‚" said Coetzee. "He started all 10 Tests and it is time to give Handré an opportunity."
The coach has been at pains to explain how the 9pm kick-off will affect the conditions.
He wants to apply scoreboard pressure by building an innings‚ much the way Ireland did last week.
Francois Venter’s inclusion was also expected after Damian de Allende trundled up blind alleys last week.
"Damian did well with ball in hand‚" the coach said curiously.
Venter’s sheer industry was explained as the reason for giving him the nod.
There may be a few arched eyebrows at Vermeulen’s elevation straight into the starting team when he was not part of the landscape a week ago.
The coach‚ however‚ was largely preaching to the converted when he explained his decision to insert Vermeulen in the starting team. "Duane slotted in well. It’s logic.
"Pieter-Steph is a good lineout exponent. We needed another lineout option and he [Vermeulen] fits that role perfectly. He also brings leadership and he knows the conditions in France.
"People will expect big things from Duane. We know what he brings. He will be tremendous in the collisions.
"His inclusion is a positive one‚" said Coetzee.