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Handre Pollard can evolve into our Sexton, says Delport

By Cian Tracey

Former South African full-back Thinus Delport has backed Handre Pollard to become as crucial to the Springboks as Johnny Sexton is to Ireland.

Pollard has been a revelation since making his debut against Scotland in June. The 20-year-old out-half scored two tries in his side's epic Rugby Championship win against New Zealand last time out and is widely regarded as the coming star of world rugby.

Delport, who made 18 appearances for the Boks, has likened his style of play to that of Sexton's and believes that he has all the attributes to fulfil what is an undoubted abundance of potential.

"Pollard has been outstanding. He's got such a mature head on his shoulders," Delport said.

"He's attacking the line with intent and he's not afraid to get involved in the physical side of the game. He's very much like Sexton in that regard except he's a few years younger.

"His distribution is top-class and he really gets the backline moving. His kicking from the tee is very good but if there's one aspect of his game that needs improving, it's his tactical kicking. The attacking edge that he adds is crucial to the Springboks' game plan," he added.

With South Africa having ended the All Blacks' unbeaten run which lasted almost two years, Delport acknowledged that they will go into tomorrow's game high on confidence and looking to build towards the World Cup.

"There's a whole new confidence now and they've added another dynamic to their game and are carrying much more ball in hand. A lot of that is probably down to Pollard," Delport added.

Delport pointed to the absences of Cian Healy and Rory Best as blows for the hosts but maintained that Ireland still have enough quality to trouble the Boks.

And he also backed Joe Schmidt's decision to pair Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne in midfield.

He said: "The centre partnership is fascinating. I haven't seen too much of either guy but if they've been playing well for their clubs, what better game to try them out than against the second best team in the world?"

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