Stormers hooker Joseph Dweba is on the standby list and normally you would expect him to be on the first flight out to France after Marx went down with only Mbonambi and the retreaded openside Fourie left in the squad to fill the No 2 jersey void.
Seriously though, while this is tough on Manie Libbok who is a very talented player, you’re talking about bringing a World Cup winner coming into camp, so there’s no debate, and it softens the blow. I would think that, generally, any player who’s in that position would understand that if a guy, who has been there and done it, comes in and takes your place it’s not for any other reason that it’s in the best interests of the team. Look at England, they have a similar conundrum with Owen Farrell and what to do with him after George Ford’s heroics against Argentina. Indeed, the true test of great teams is when the player accepts it and doesn’t challenge it. It’s easy to say when you’re the starter, but a lot more difficult if you’re the player who’s missed out. Having looked at where Manie was a year or two ago, to now playing in a World Cup and losing a game or two to a World Cup winner, I would genuinely think that he has reasons to be positive.
So why is Pollard’s call-up so crucial? Well, look at the sharp end of World Cups. If you delve into the history books, there are not many tries scored in the semifinals and finals, and therefore place kicking becomes a premium in those knockout games. Sure, you can mostly get away with a few miscues in the Pool stages, but in semifinals and finals, drop-kicks and penalty kicks win you World Cups. It’s as simple as that.
Huge injuries happen in every tournament and you have to deal with it. It was devastating for Romain Ntamack to miss this World Cup and our very own Jean de Villiers had terrible luck at World Cups but at least they made it. One of the most unlucky Springboks ever was Gary Teichmann. His first Test was the one after the winning 1995 World Cup and his final Test was one Test before the 1999 World Cup. Think about that. You play four years, you are one of the most successful Springbok captains ever, you go on – at the time – the longest unbeaten run ever, you play in teams that won Tri-Nations, around some of the greatest players in the world and you never play in a World Cup. Sometimes fate is a cruel mistress, but I’m sure Malcolm will be back.