Bulls pivot Handré Pollard enters his fourth Super Rugby season in good physical condition and the stage is set for him to finally show rugby fans what the fuss is all about.
The 23-year-old wunderkind‚ who made his Springboks debut aged 20 in 2014‚ is yet to fulfil his potential because of a spate of injuries. But he starts the 2018 campaign on the back of a good preseason and coach John Mitchell says he is healthy and raring to go.
Last season he spent most of the time idling on the sidelines after he ruptured knee ligaments that also cost him some matches for the Springboks.
"He is looking very healthy‚" Mitchell said. "He has done something about how he deals with his body.
"He is working on his game and he is becoming resilient‚" said Mitchell when he announced the Bulls squad to face the Hurricanes at Loftus in Pretoria on Saturday.
The squad includes four Springboks in the starting line-up and four potential debutants on the bench.
"We are not going to get 18 games out of him because we must manage workloads. But if we get him for the majority of the games it will be good for us.
"This competition is about continuity as much as you can to build confidence and cohesion."
Pollard will start at No10 against the Hurricanes and Mitchell warned him not to be pressured by the weight of expectation from fans.
"He will show the public what he is made of naturally. It is more about proving to himself that he can do it, "said Mitchell.
"If he is robust for the whole competition‚ the Springboks are going to receive an outstanding athlete. He must just continue to concentrate on what he is doing at the moment‚ which is to be healthy. He is fortunate that he can also play at No12."
The Bulls coach left the experienced former Springboks captain Adriaan Strauss on the bench but said the big hooker understood the role of being a finisher. "He needs to be commended for the way he has come to the programme and taken on new challenges.
"He is refreshed by the fact that he will not carry any of the leadership responsibilities and he is passing information to the younger players around him.
"He is leading by example with his actions and there is no doubt that he will be in contention to start as the season progresses. For this week we thought he will contribute as a finisher."