England coach Steve Borthwick was defeated by a player he knows well in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup semi-final. South Africa fly-half Handre Pollard scored the winning kick and has history with Borthwick having previously praised his “no bulls***” approach.
Pollard broke England’s hearts with his late penalty to secure a dramatic 16-15 comeback win for the Springboks at the Stade de France. South Africa trailed for the vast majority of the match before a try from RG Snyman sparked them into life.
England were understandably devastated to miss out on a second successive final by a matter of minutes. But the fact it was Pollard who put the final nail in the coffin may hurt Borthwick even more.
Borthwick signed Pollard when he was coach of Leicester Tigers. At the time, Pollard revealed he had turned down better financial offers from elsewhere as he had been convinced to work for Borthwick.
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Pollard said: “Look, there is no bull s***ing around this, there were bigger deals on the table but I have made this decision to work with Steve and to be a part of an unreal, great club at Leicester Tigers which has such a great history in rugby. That is what excites me, being a part of what is happening at this club under Steve.
“He has a very clear vision for what he wants and what he expects. I want that. There is no bulls*** with him.
“I respect that. He is straight up and that is what I love about a head coach, straight in your face, whether you like it or not, and I want that, I respect that.”
Pollard will be hoping to earn a starting spot in next Saturday’s final versus New Zealand after coming on in the first half against England. He was a surprise early replacement for Manie Libbok and was determined to take his chance.
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He said: “I drew a lot of confidence from last week’s kick but that was always going to be the plan. Get a scrum and a penalty, that was the only way for us.
“It was a big moment but it is what you want as a player on this stage, to have moments like that as a fly-half is what you live for.
“It’s been an interesting four years since the last World Cup, with a lot of highs and lows. With Covid-19, injuries when I was in France [with Montpellier] and then an injury before the Premiership semi-final with Leicester this year.
“And then again a lot of ups and downs in the last few months, not being selected then coming back, but that’s all in the past.”
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