South Africa prepared for set-piece battle in the rain against Wales
The Springboks have named six forwards on their bench for what Handre Pollard expects to be a “gain-line battle”.
South Africa fly-half Handre Pollard is braced for a set-piece war against Wales in Sunday’s World Cup semi-final at International Stadium Yokohama.
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Rain is expected for the showdown and the Springboks have named a six-two split of forwards and backs on the bench, but Pollard insists they are ready for all types of conditions.
“We don’t select our team based on the weather, but going with the six-two split certainly helps when it’s wet,” the Bulls fly-half said.
“It’s going to be a big set-piece battle and gain-line battle, whether it’s dry or wet. We have prepared for that.
“Whatever comes our way, we’ll handle it. Our gameplan suits dry and wet weather pretty well, so there won’t be any major adjustments because of the weather.
“We’ve got the threat of attacking backs loaded, but if your boys are mauling and handling the set piece like our boys are at the moment, you are not going to stop.”
South Africa are odds-on favourites to end a run of four defeats by Wales and Pollard, who will be winning his 47th cap, knows his role as ringmaster is to keep his big forwards moving.
“As a fly-half, you just let the boys go. It’s my responsibility to keep our big boys going forward for the majority of the game,” Pollard said.
“When you start turning around, it takes a lot out of your forwards, and you use a lot of energy.
“I try to keep them on the front foot for as long as possible, and when we get the opportunity to get our maul or set piece going, I must make sure they are ready to go.
“Wales know what they’re 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 that match.
“Lately we’ve struggled against them. It’s always our last game on the end-of-year tour, after a long season and in the Millennium Stadium.
“It’s always tough and you never have all your guys fit and ready to go. So it’s going to be nice to play them on a neutral ground with the teams having most of their guys available for selection.”