16 Sep 2020
Handré Pollard will return to South Africa after suffering a serious knee injury in France.
The Springbok flyhalf tore an anterior cruciate ligament while attempting a tackle during Montpellier's Top 14 match against Racing 92 last Friday and is expected to be sidelined for six to nine months.
Pollard was the second Springbok to suffer that fate in a three-week period, with lock RG Snyman's Munster debut lasting just seven minutes.
Another Bok lock, Lood de Jager, will require surgery after sustaining a shoulder injury while playing for the Sale Sharks.
In a RugbyRocks.com Instagram Live chat with Cato Louw on Tuesday night, Bok physiotherapist Rene Naylor confirmed Pollard would be returning to South Africa.
‘It’s very sad for Handré. He would have enjoyed being back on the pitch,' she said.
‘He’s decided to come and do his surgery and his rehabilitation in South Africa, because it's going to be a long process – at least six months before he can get onto a pitch again.
‘It’s disappointing that we’ve had a few injuries, but this is the effect of being out of rugby for a long time.’
Naylor said South Africa's strict lockdown regulations meant SA rugby players' injury stats couldn't be compared those of players in New Zealand, Australia and Europe.
'Our players weren’t allowed outside or on pitches for a long time. We only started with contact training a week ago. So even though they came back at Level 4 and trained in little pods, rugby is not just about training in groups of five. The real sport-specific conditioning only started a week ago.
‘Many of those [South Africans] who play club rugby in Europe spent the lockdown in South Africa. Those who play in Japan [and returned there at the end of August] only came out of quarantine this week.
‘The players were very good at working on their bodies and training at home during the lockdown, and did as much as they could, but there’s obviously a limit,' Naylor added.
‘I think we will see the full effect of lockdown in the next few months when we go back into competition.’
While the Springboks are set to play in the Rugby Championship in November and December, many believe they'd be on a hiding to nothing and that the SA-based Boks should play in the Currie Cup instead.
'It has to be debated, discussed and analysed,' said Naylor when asked for her opinion.
'As a medic, I’m putting on my player welfare hat. The players need to get at least four weeks of contact training and then go into domestic rugby.
'We were hoping to play at least six domestic games before going into the Rugby Championship. That would be the ideal scenario, to be competitive and protect player welfare.’