Cape Town - Elton Jantjies will harbour little affection for his last start for the Springboks on South African terrain.
The gifted but often unpredictable pivot was tasked with calling the shots at No 10 on a difficult day for the national team in various respects at Newlands in June last year.
For one thing, it was a dead-rubber affair against England, considering that they had already taken a 2-0 lead in the three-match series, so collective Bok eyes weren’t as firmly on the ball as they might have been in a clear-cut 25-10 defeat.
But it was also a filthy winter’s day in the Mother City, marked by rain and gusting wind, dragging Jantjies well out of his preferred landscape, which is for more adventurous rugby in firm-pitch, benign conditions.
The Lions-based stalwart failed near-dismally to put a satisfying game-management stamp on that fixture, making several errors and his body language increasingly looking forlorn before his substitution after the break.
Now the 28-year-old gets a tantalising redemption opportunity, really, as he deputises for resting first-choice Handre Pollard in the berth ... at his beloved, familiar Ellis Park against Australia on Saturday (17:05 kick-off), and with fine, cool weather fully anticipated.
“I think he’ll be very happy with that forecast,” says kicking guru and dual former Springbok and SA Sevens player Vlok Cilliers.
“In wet weather like that horrible Newlands day, you need more a flyhalf who can bang the ball 35 to 40 metres, and also take it flat a lot and be extremely physical on defence.
“But this is a great way for Rassie (Erasmus, the Bok head coach) to get him meaningfully involved for the national side again in 2019; a chance he should grab at his Lions stronghold, where he often demonstrates his best confidence.
“I don’t think the Boks will move away too much from the type of game the coach wishes to play, which will be a mix of a ball-in-hand approach but also a need for some smart tactical kicking.
“Especially with an exciting runner like Warrick Gelant at fullback for this one, I think the Boks will certainly play when it looks ‘on’, but perhaps with less running rugby in the first portion of the match - you might see them more adventurous in the last 20 minutes or so and that would suit Elton; he’s so dangerous when play loosens up and he can produce chips, grubbers and those hand skills (of his).”
What about his alliance on Saturday, though, with a completely new halfback partner in debutant and namesake Herschel Jantjies of the Stormers/WP?
Cilliers says: “Obviously that is not ideal. It is a key ‘pairing’ situation ... like a nine and an eight needing to know each others’ game well, or a hooker with his locks for lineout purposes.
“It will be interesting in this Test ... I think there will be more pressure on them as a combination if the Wallabies are the ones to get on the front foot first.
“But on the plus side, Herschel had a good Super Rugby: his passing is swift and he cleans the rucks fast, too. I didn’t think his box-kicking game was that accurate in the competition, though - he will relieve the responsibility on Elton if he does that task (better) on Saturday.
“Look, they have trained together intensively for a good couple of weeks, but that is not the same as a Test-match situation; they will have to be allowed a bit of time to ‘find’ each other against the Aussies. They would do well to gel instantly.”
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 S'bu Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Francois Louw, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Dillyn Leyds
15 Tom Banks , 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nic White, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5 Rory Arnold, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper
Substitutes: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Jack Dempsey, 21 Will Genia, 22 Matt To’omua, 23 Kurtley Beale
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