Pollard feels for Jesse Kriel but looks ahead to Italy

Handre Pollard insists South Africa reset their World Cup plan very quickly after their opening game defeat by New Zealand: six games, six wins.

It is a simple equation, and one they are keen to tackle head-on.

They achieved victory number one against Namibia, and now move on to phase two against Italy in Shizuoka on Friday night.

Defeat against the Azzurri, coupled with their loss to the All Blacks, would signal the end of the World Cup road for the Springboks but Pollard, pictured in action against New Zealand, feels his team are ready to deliver.

"We knew after the All Black loss that it’s pretty simple: six games, six wins," said the fly-half. "We’ve been treating a lot of games in these past few years like it’s a knockout game, and I think the (Rugby) Championship prepared us well.

"We’ve tried to hype up certain games, just to create more pressure internally, so that we get experience in the situation we are in now.

“I really don’t think an awful lot (needs to be changed) – small tweaks here and there in every department." 

Pollard, who sat out at the Namibia match, kicked eight points against New Zealand, including a drop goal to bring the score back to 17-13 and, after Dan Biggar and Rhys Patchell both scored drop goals to help Wales beat Australia, the outside-half has not ruled out a repeat against the Italians.

“It could be, we will wait and see," he said. “If we have those opportunities, we’ve just got to get something from them every time we get in in their 22 and their half.

"Tactically, whoever is in the nine, 10 and 15 positions, we’ve got to control the game and make sure we play in the right areas of the field, and then convert."

Centre Jessie Kriel, who injured his hamstring in the All Black defeat, has been ruled out of the rest of the tournament and will be replaced in the squad by utility back Damian Willemse, the Springboks management announced on Tuesday evening.

Willemse, 21, who has five caps and has been on a short-term loan to English club Saracens in recent weeks, will join the squad on Thursday.

“Damian would have been more involved with us this year but for injury, but he is familiar with our systems and should have no problem slotting in,” South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus said.

“I feel for Jesse. He has been in the match-day 23 for almost every match since I took over and is a model professional.”

unnamed - Pollard feels for Jesse Kriel but looks ahead to Italy

Rugby World Cup

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