Pollard 'fit and ready to go' for Springboks

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Handre Pollard has moved a step closer to a long-awaited international return after being named in South Africa's squad for their Rugby Championship matches in Australia and New Zealand.

Fly-half Pollard endured a prolonged spell on the sidelines with an ankle problem this season, after a knee injury forced him to miss the 2016 Super Rugby campaign.

However, the 23-year-old was invited to join the Springboks' squad for the games against Argentina in order for his rehabilitation to be monitored and Pollard could now represent South Africa for the first time since October 2015, after replacing Curwin Bosch in Allister Coetzee's 29-man party.

"Handre was really impressive during the two weeks he spent with us in Port Elizabeth," said head coach Coetzee.

"Even though he was fit and available for the away match against Argentina in Salta, we made a decision that another week of conditioning will be beneficial for him.

"I believe he is fit and ready to go and he will be utilised in a versatile role, covering centre too. He is the kind of player that really thrives in the Springbok environment and is very coachable."

The other changes to South Africa's squad see the fit-again Ross Cronje return in place of Jano Vermaak, while Dillyn Leyds comes in for Francois Venter.

Prop Coenie Oosthuizen will undergo a scan on Tuesday to determine the extent of his rib injury.

After beating Argentina home and away, the Springboks face Australia in Perth on September 9 before taking on the All Blacks the following weekend.

 

South Africa squad to face Australia and New Zealand:

Forwards: Uzair Cassiem, Lood de Jager, Ruan Dreyer, Dan du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Steven Kitshoff, Siya Kolisi, Jaco Kriel, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Franco Mostert, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Coenie Oosthuizen, Chiliboy Ralepelle.

Backs: Andries Coetzee, Ross Cronje, Damian de Allende, Francois Hougaard, Elton Jantjies, Jesse Kriel, Dillyn Leyds, Rudy Paige, Handre Pollard, Raymond Rhule, Jan Serfontein, Courtnall Skosan.