Both Pollard and Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick rubbished suggestions that the Bok team was a “B side” after a squad featuring 14 new faces in the starting team and six debutantes in the match-day squad of 23 players was named and said the side was determined to prove themselves.
Pollard was delighted to be handed the captaincy, standing in for regular captain Siya Kolisi and said: “It is an honour to captain the Springboks and it is going to be an exciting challenge. My family is here, as my parents are coming to the game as well, so it is going to be a special occasion.”
Commenting on the array of changes in the Springbok squad, Pollard said: “There are a lot of new faces in the squad, but every player deserves his spot as they all played for their franchises and clubs, and we’ will have enough experience on the field as a group.
Pollard added: “I think it is important to give the young guys an opportunity to play in such big games because it can only benefit them in future.
“This group of players has trained together for the last two weeks, and we have built cohesion in the squad.”
Stick was equally adamant about the quality of team they selected: “If you look at our team, we have players like Thomas du Toit (prop) who captained the Cell C Sharks, Eben Etzebeth (lock) who has captained the Springboks before, and guys like Handre who have been in the system for a very long time and who know what we want to do on the field.
“The nature of his position also requires him to be one of the game drivers, so the only difference for him this week is that he will have to communicate with the match officials.”
Of the changes to the team, Stick said: “In all honesty, calling this team a B team is disrespecting the emblem. We have 42 players in the squad, and they have all played well for their clubs and, somehow, we have to give them opportunities.
“We do not have a B team, we have a good balance of guys who have been around and others who have been in form, and we feel it is important to get that balance right.”
Pollard said: “We know Wales will get under our skin, but we won’t take a step back. In fact, that usually brings the best out of us.
“Wales are a tough team. They don’t go away, and they are a physical, but we are prepared for that.
“They also have a good tactical game, so it’s going to be hard Test rugby, but if there is space out wide we will try to take it.”
Pollard was excited about playing in Bloemfontein and said: “It is a difficult ground to play at. I played my second Vodacom Super Rugby game here and I remember we lost.
“When the Boks come here there is a different feeling to Bloemfontein, so for us it is a special place, and we’d like to keep it that way.”