Handre Pollard anticipates South Africa’s Rugby World Cup semi-final with Wales will be settled by kicking, as he relishes the task of going up against Leigh Halfpenny and Dan Biggar.
Wales were dealt a blow on Thursday when Liam Williams was ruled out of the match due to injury, with Halfpenny coming in at full-back for Sunday’s clash in Yokohama.
However, while the Six Nations champions have lost a key player in the form of Williams, Halfpenny is an expert kicker, while Biggar has also been in fine form with the boot.
Springboks’ fly half Pollard has not had the same luck, converting 12 of his 19 attempts at goal, and acknowledged his own kicking must improve if Rassie Erasmus’ side – who will be without influential wing Cheslin Kolbe – are to make it into the final.
“[Halfpenny] is a world-class goal-kicker, we all know that,” Pollard said in a news conference.
“We all know it’s going to probably come down to a kick or a drop goal. It’s semi-final rugby, so you must try your best to be on target with every kick. If it’s not to be, it’s not to be.”
— Springboks (@Springboks) October 25, 2019
South Africa defeated Wales in the 2015 quarter-finals, with Biggar a standout performer at Twickenham.
“We went at it four years ago, and I thought [Biggar] had a brilliant game that day. We really had to play well to win that match,” Pollard added.
“He is a world-class player, unbelievably good. He is really not scared of the physical part of the match, and that’s something that excites both of us. It’s going to be fun to go against him for 80 minutes.
“[Wales] know what they are good at and focus on that. They are relentless in those areas. They starve you of possession and territory and enforce their kicking game on you. They take away your set-piece.
“It’s not a gameplan or rugby with a lot of flair in it, but it’s suffocating. If you fall into that trap, they will enforce their gameplan on you for 80 minutes and you will probably not win.
“It’s going to be two sides tactically trying to figure each other out. We have a couple of plans up our sleeves.”
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