Bath head coach admits Handre Pollard is too good to target
Johann van Graan, the Bath head coach, has admitted it is pointless to target double World Cup winner Handre Pollard when the Premiership leaders head to Leicester on Sunday because the Springbok No10 cannot be shackled.
Van Graan, the former Munster and Springboks forwards coach, was part of the South African management at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, working with Pollard and said: “There is no specific plan for Handre, he is too good to target specifically.
“I have coached Handre for a very long time and he is one of the best and the ultimate professional. Handre loves big moments and if you look at the three Rugby World Cups ( 2015, 2019, 2023) that he has been involved in, he makes his kicks in big games.
“He is playing in a class team and so we give them all the respect they deserve. To play the Tigers on the last day of 2023, if you don’t enjoy these games, why are you in the game? We cannot wait.”
Van Graan also had fulsome praise for Jasper Wiese, the Springbok No8, who has been a ball carrying dynamo for eighth placed Tigers, helping them to the Premiership title in 2022.
He has been topping the weekly ball carrying statistics in the league and van Graan said: “I came across Jasper the first time when he was playing for the Cheetahs and he came of the bench against Munster and you saw this dynamic ball carrier. Steve Borthwick signed him for Leicester and what a journey he has been on.
“He was perceived to have poor discipline at one stage and team’s targeted him and he has become one of the premier ball carriers in world rugby. What he has done for Leicester is incredible and he is the leading ball carrier in the Premiership averaging 20 carries a game.
“What he did for South Africa was also incredible – has worked hard at his game and he is tough. He is one of the best players in the Premiership in my view.”
Van Graan has no concerns about maintaining a rotation policy in the Premiership believing the Bath squad’s strength in depth is good enough to take on Leicester at Welford Road. He added: “Game 17 in this block has just gone and we have still got five to go and it seems like it is never ending. No player will play every weekend and we believe that whatever team is selected that will be good enough to get a result if we follow our process.
“There are some very good teams in the competition and the one we are facing is one of the premier clubs in world rugby and Welford Road is one of the more difficult places to go to.”
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