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Handré Pollard out of Bok Test, Frans Malherbe in doubt

PORT ELIZABETH – Flyhalf Handré Pollard will have to wait at least one more week before making his return for South Africa after he was ruled not ready to face Argentina in the Springboks’ Rugby Championship opener at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.

Pollard has been battling an ankle problem since April, having also missed the entire 2016 season through injury, but was included in the squad by coach Allister Coetzee for the visit of Argentina.

Coetzee is thin on specialist flyhalf options, with Elton Jantjies the only experienced number 10 in the squad.

Uncapped 20-year-old Curwin Bosch will provide cover.

Coetzee is also sweating over the fitness of tighthead prop Frans Malherbe, who has been complaining of a sore neck since Thursday and is likely to sit out the Test, team doctor Konrad von Hagen told reporters on Monday.

Coenie Oosthuizen and Trevor Nyakane are the other options on that side of the scrum against what has traditionally been a powerful Argentine forward pack.

Scrumhalf Ross Cronjé has also not yet trained with the squad after he suffered shoulder and chest injuries while playing for the Lions in the Super Rugby final on August 5.

Coetzee has experienced cover though in the form of Francois Hougaard and Rudy Paige.

The Boks won all three home Tests against France in June, a welcome return to form after losing eight of their 12 Tests in 2016, the worst season in the history of the side.

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