Rugby World Cup: Springboks recall superboot Handre Pollard to face All Blacks in Stade de France final

Handre Pollard, who kicked South Africa to an emphatic victory in the last Rugby World Cup final, will start again in this year's decider, with another controversial 7-1 split among the forwards and backs on the bench for Sunday's decider (NZ time) against New Zealand.

Pollard scored 22 points when South Africa beat England 32-12 in the 2019 final in Japan and replaces Manie Libbok at first-five, while Faf de Klerk comes in at scrumhalf in two changes from the line-up that started the narrow 16-15 semi-final success over England.

Pollard, 29, was brought on for Libbok after 30 minutes of the semi in one of several drastic substitutions made by the Boks coaches to get themselves back into a match that England were dominating.

Handre Pollard in action against England.
Handre Pollard in action against England. Photo credit: Getty Images

In the end, he proved the matchwinner again, as he kicked over a 48-metre penalty to hand South Africa a place in the final.

Coach Jacques Nienaber has surprised with his choice of replacements, going with seven forwards and a single back for the third time in the last two months. South Africa are gambling on fresh forward power winning them the game, but risk having no cover for injury among the backs.

Nienaber first used the split for the 35-7 win over the All Blacks at Twickenham in their last warm-up test before the September start of the World Cup and again in the poolstage defeat to Ireland.

Fifteen of the 23 players named in South Africa's matchday squad played in the final four years ago, representing considerable experience. They have a combined tally of 987 caps, with the back three of Cheslin Kolbe (30 caps), Kurt-Lee Arendse (14) and Damian Willemse (38) the only players in the starting XV with fewer than 50 test appearances.

The final is the last for Nienaber, who moves to Irish province Leinster after the tournament.

New Zealand, who - like South Africa - have won three previous World Cups, will name their team on Friday morning.

South Africa: 1-Steven Kitshoff, 2-Bongi Mbonambi, 3-Frans Malherbe, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 5-Franco Mostert, 6-Siya Kolisi, 7-Pieter-Steph du Toit, 8-Duane Vermeulen, 9-Faf de Klerk, 10-Handre Pollard, 11-Cheslin Kolbe, 12-Damian de Allende, 13-Jesse Kriel, 14-Kurt-Lee Arendse, 15-Damian Willemse 

Replacements: 16-Deon Fourie, 17-Ox Nche, 18-Trevor Nyakane, 19-Jean Kleyn, 20-RG Snyman, 21-Kwagga Smith, 22-Jasper Wiese, 23-Willie Le Roux

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