Cape Town - Any early mishap to starting flyhalf Elton Jantjies might leave the Springboks vulnerable against Australia on Saturday … it would probably force substitute Frans Steyn into a role he has seldom occupied in recent times.
The sometimes controversial, Montpellier-based star was named earlier this week by coach Rassie Erasmus among the reserves - there are three backliners in their midst - for the Rugby Championship clash at Emirates Airline Park (17:05 kick-off).
Steyn has 56 Bok caps stretching back to 2006, and while his positional versatility is extraordinary, he has only ever started one Test specifically at pivot, against Italy at Newlands more than 11 years ago (June 2008) when scrumhalf service to him was provided by Ricky Januarie.
But he would appear to be the most suitable candidate, nevertheless, if suddenly required there in an emergency capacity against the Wallabies on Saturday, as the other two backs on the splinters are scrumhalf Cobus Reinach and back-three specialist Dillyn Leyds.
The last-named player has several of the skills needed to do the job, but he is not a renowned place-kicker, an area where Steyn - with his unusually powerful, long-range boot - is traditionally far more proficient.
So the French-based prior World Cup winner, from Jake White’s 2007 Boks, seems a better bet at flyhalf in the event that Jantjies has to leave the field prematurely.
Yet Steyn is notably more comfortable either as an inside centre or fullback.
“I agree … I don’t think Frans is a natural ten,” says kicking guru and dual former Springbok and SA Sevens player Vlok Cilliers.
“He has played some of his best Bok rugby in midfield, in the Jake era, and we have also seen him excel at fullback, where there is the freedom for him to look up and assess situations - he has the power to run it up nicely and also the ability to blast the ball 60 metres at times.
“But you get less time on the ball at flyhalf and I don’t think that suits him as much. Chances to carry the ball up effectively are also better at twelve, often, than they are from ten.
“So I looked at that team-sheet Rassie put out and did wonder how things might go if Elton were to have to come off too early.
“If there aren’t any injury-related factors at play, though, I would quite like to see Frans get a crack at inside centre some time in the second half, where his huge experience would help Elton, right nearby him.”
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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