A closer look at the head-to-head battle between Marcus Smith and Handre Pollard

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England and South Africa will meet for the first time since the 2019 World Cup final at Twickenham on Saturday.

Here, the PA news agency examines the fly-half duel between Marcus Smith and Handre Pollard that will help shape the contest.

Marcus Smith – England

Marcus Smith has made a strong start to his England career
Marcus Smith has made a promising start to his England career but South Africa are the toughest opponents he will have faced (Adam Davy/PA)

Club: Harlequins
Position: Fly-half
Age: 22
Caps: 4
Debut: v USA, 2021
Height: 5ft 7in
Weight: 12st 13lbs
Points: 51 (Tries 2, Conversions 19, Penalty 1)

The rising star of English rugby has barely put a foot wrong in his young Test career but against South Africa he faces his greatest challenge yet. Smith has made his name through the attacking flourishes that swept Harlequins to the Gallagher Premiership title last season, but on Saturday he will need to demonstrate the strides taken in his game management. The Springboks will unleash a barrage of kicks and Smith must orchestrate the response, while also operating in the teeth of their blitz defence. There will be no Owen Farrell to assist with the generalship, but Smith has shown previously that he has the steel to match his genius.

Handre Pollard – South Africa

Handre Pollard in action for South Africa
Handre Pollard is a physical presence who can carry into the heart of the opposition midfield (Steve Haag/PA)

Club: Montpellier
Position: Fly-half
Age: 27
Caps: 59
Debut: v Scotland, 2014
Height: 6ft 2in
Weight: 15st 4lbs
Points: 586 (Tries 6, conversions 83, penalties 126, drop-goals 4)

A very different fly-half to Smith and one ideally suited to South Africa’s forward-orientated, smothering gameplan that was enough to topple the Lions during the summer. Cobus Reinach will provide imagination at scrum-half, while Pollard directs the world champions around the field with a siege-gun boot. Unlike Smith, the France-based playmaker is also a physical presence who can carry into the heart of the opposition midfield, offering a gainline threat. Defensively he is very solid and, while armed with a a range of passing, it is his game management that stands out.

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