Junior Springbok captain Handré Pollard has been named the IRB Junior Player of the Year 2014 following his side’s 21-20 defeat to England in the IRB Junior World Championship final at Eden Park on Friday.
Pollard is the second South African to win the Award after Jan Serfontein, his teammate when the Junior Springboks won the Junior World Championship title on home soil in 2012.
The 20-year-old edged out England wing Nathan Earle, Ireland centre Garry Ringrose and New Zealand wing Tevita Li following a comprehensive voting system.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “It is always a difficult task to select a winner, especially when all the candidates have performed so impressively during a spectacular Junior World Championship, but Handré Pollard is a deserved recipient of the prestigious IRB Junior Player of the Year award.”
“His superb marshalling at fly half has been an eye-catching feature of the Junior Boks’ passage to the final and Pollard has performed throughout with great poise, control and adventure. I would like to extend my congratulations to him.”
“While accolades are well deserved, it is the on and off-field character-building experiences that will pave the way for all the talented young players at this tournament to grow into great rugby players. I wish the class of 2014 all the best and thank them for the pleasure and inspiration that they have given to fans around the world.”
Pollard dedicated his award to his team mates: “Absolutely, it is a big honour for me and all the credit goes to my teammates. I think you can’t do anything in rugby without your teammates and that’s the beauty of it, it’s such a team sport and these group of guys we were so amazing. We fought for the jersey and we fought for pride and that’s what rugby is about for me,” said Pollard.
The fly half was outstanding throughout the tournament, leading South Africa’s challenge with a great maturity and inspired others to follow his example, setting up or scoring pivotal scores to turn a match in his side’s favour.