FORMER champion South African all-rounder Shaun Pollock has dismissed the "choker" tag associated with his team, despite the Proteas having never won a World Cup.
That unwanted label will no doubt be rolled out again if the latest star-studded outfit from the Republic, featuring destructive batsman AB de Villiers and feared quick Dale Steyn, cannot win Down Under.
Since being readmitted to world cricket before the 1992 World Cup, the Proteas have never progressed past the semi-finals.
Pollock has the unwanted memories of twice losing to Australia at the penultimate stages, in 1999 and 2007.
Memories of the tied semi-final in 1999 (Australia went through on earlier results), still linger, the horror run-out involving Lance Klusener and Allan Donald in the final over sending South Africa's dreams up in smoke.
The "choker" tag has been associated with the Proteas since that tournament, but Pollock said it wasn't something he was bothered by.
"Not at all. That's a media thing. They use all the hype to try and create a reaction," Pollock told APN.
"We've got plenty of match-winners in our team. It's all going to boil down to quarter-finals, semi-finals, and what you do on those days.
"It was disappointing to tie that game (in 1999) and not end up on top was unlucky for us, but that happens in sport."
Coming into the tournament as one of the favourites, the tag resurfaced after a humiliating 130-run loss to India at the MCG in South Africa's second game of the campaign.
But then an incredible 162 not out from just 66 balls from de Villiers against the West Indies got his side back on track.
"The preparation was very low key in New Zealand. Then all of a sudden you come to the MCG and there are 90,000 people there," Pollock said.
"The intensity then changes. India has been here for two months, so they were well oiled and used to that kind of thing."
Pollock said de Villiers was deserving of his superstar tag - first brought on by former Australian star Adam Gilchrist - that he is the most valuable player in world cricket.
"I would say so. His fielding and captaincy has been good. His ability to score runs against plenty of different kinds of bowlers makes him unique," Pollock said.
"He's a freak.
"There's no doubt if he gets a foundation he can be destructive against any line-up in the world."
South Africa takes on Ireland at Manuka Oval today, with Proteas paceman Vernon Philander and batsman JP Duminy under injury clouds.
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