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14th Jul 2016

Springbok’s Handré Pollard reveals how close he was to arm amputation

Close, close call

Patrick McCarry

Handré Pollard hated the idea of missing any Super Rugby but he needed to get his shoulder sorted.

The 22-year-old was out with a knee injury, earlier this year, when he was advised to get his shoulder looked at while he was on the sidelines.

20 caps into his life as a Springbok and with one World Cup already behind him, Pollard needed screws inserted in his damaged shoulder. That’s life as a professional rugby player. That’s life when you run with wolves.

Not long after his shoulder operation, Pollard fell ill. News came out that he would miss Ireland’s tour to South Africa but Pollard’s situation was dire. His shoulder was infected and he was forced to spend an extra five weeks in a Pretoria hospital ‘receiving intravenous anti-biotics for up to seven hours a day’.

Pollard’s doctors warned him, at one stage, that he may lose his arm. The outhalf told EWN Sport:

“There was a possibility [of amputation], they told me that early on, but luckily we identified it as early as possible, if we had let it go another month or so there was a big chance of that.

“Everything was sorted quite quickly, there was a possibility of that but fortunately I’ve still got all my limbs and can play some rugby.”

Pollard, who claimed World Rugby U20 Player of the Year in 2013, was laid low – physically and mentally – by the first major injury setback of is career. However, staying positive now that he is over the worst, he feels “blessed” to be able to make his comeback.

Paul O'Connell

That return to the pitch will not be until February of next year, so The Rugby Championship and a November tour to Europe are off the cards. Pollard is keen to get back playing but cognisant of not trying to push himself too hard, too soon. He said:

“For me it’s kind of a funny thing, it’ll feel like I’ll be making my debut again when I go back. My mind’s refreshed and I’m hungry to prove myself again. I’m still young, I’ve got a few caps but that doesn’t mean much these days, so I’ve got to come back and prove myself all over again and I’m pretty excited for that challenge.”

One hopes Pollard can get right back to it in 2017. There should be plenty of miles on the clock yet.


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