Shaun Cronin & Grainne McGuinness
Rob Kearney, speaking at the Ireland rugby team announcement at Carlton House today, says fly-half Handré Pollard is the driving force behind South Africa’s recent successes.
When asked about the improvement in the Springboks attacking game, Kearney highlighted the 20-year-old.
“I think the introduction of Pollard, he’s changed up their game plan a huge amount,” said Kearney. “He takes the line on very well; his first instinct is to run.
“It’s simply down to him and the changes that he’s brought to their game.”
When questioned if that meant a particularly tough ride for the back three and the wings he said Ireland would not be changing their game, but instead relying on their own strengths.
“We won’t be changing in terms of our back three and our pendulum work” Kearney insisted. “We’ll have to work a little bit harder to cover the space because Le Roux is pretty good at finding those corners off counter attacks.
“But we’ll be backing ourselves in the air against them.”
Pollard scored two tries and kicked a further nine points during the Springboks victory over the All-Blacks in the Championship last month, a victory Kearney is all too aware leaves them brimming with confidence.
“We didn’t beat them(New Zealand) but we stayed within two points of them and got a huge amount of confidence from that game,” said Kearney, “so I can only imagine what it’s done to South Africa.”
The full-back knows the difficulties Ireland face against a team full of self-belief.
“They’re probably the form team in the world right now and they're coming over here and they're looking for clean slates,” he said. “We need to get out of the blocks really, really early - that’s going to be key to it.”
Listen to the full audio here.