Cape Town - Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has revealed that his decision to bench Elton Jantjies for Saturday's clash against Ireland at Newlands had nothing to do with the Lions playmaker's finger injury.
Jantjies, the form South African flyhalf in Super Rugby this season, had been largely tipped to wear the No 10 jersey in Coetzee's first match in charge. But when he broke his finger in a Super Rugby clash against the Jaguares back in May, that was all put in doubt.
Despite having fully recovered this week, Jantjies will not earn his first Bok start as Patrick Lambie takes up his place in the side.
Coetzee said that he was fully confident that Jantjies could play 80 minutes if called upon.
"My policy is normally that if I doubt a player’s condition then I’d rather start him and not bring him off the bench," Coetzee explained.
"If he should break, then he breaks early and the 100% player could finish the game. But if I have him on the bench and there’s question marks and he comes on and then breaks down, then you don’t have anyone to replace him.
"They’ve been cleared and I said it from the outset that the medical condition is most important to me when it comes to selection."
Coetzee was also referring to lock Pieter-Steph du Toit (also named on the bench), who has spent the last week and a half recovering from a hamstring strain.
Lambie, the coach said, had done enough since rejoining the Sharks in Super Rugby this season to suggest that he deserved his place.
"We’re fortunate we have top quality flyhalves and thank goodness Elton is ready to play," said Coetzee.
"When Patrick came back after his injury (shoulder) he showed really good form in Super Rugby … quite notably his kicking ability for poles, he was right up there in the 80s.
"When you look at combinations to have Faf with the left foot and Pat with the right foot"... it’s quite good to have in Test match rugby.
"It’s great to have both players playing well and when the opportunity is there for Elton to get his run I’m sure he won’t disappoint and he’ll be as good."
Jantjies has two Bok caps to his name - both coming off the bench in 2012.