Super Rugby

Jantjies: My Lions form will decide my Bok chances

Elton Jantjies (Gallo)
Elton Jantjies (Gallo)

Cape Town - In just two weeks’ time, the Springboks will take on Wales in an historic Test match in Washington. 

That will be followed by three home Tests against England as the Rassie Erasmus era gets underway. 

Given the troubles of 2016 and 2017 under former coach Allister Coetzee, South African rugby is desperate for a strong season in 2018 to build hope that they can challenge at next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan. 

Erasmus has less than two years to stamp his mark on the side and get them in good shape for that tournament, making every outing between now and then crucial. 

The new coach needs to find his best XV, and that process starts now. 

As is always the case, flyhalf is a major talking point with several players emerging as contenders. 

Elton Jantjies was given that role for most of the Coetzee era as Handre Pollard came back from injury, but both players are fit and firing currently. 

Pollard has been superb for the Bulls this Super Rugby season and has probably edged Jantjies in terms of form, but the Lions playmaker's attacking ability can never be underestimated and the role he has played in making the Johannesburg outfit title contenders is there for all to see. 

The Sharks' Robert du Preez and young Damian Willemse of the Stormers have also been impressive in 2018, but it is almost impossible to see either of them moving ahead of Pollard and Jantjies in the pecking order. 

On Saturday at Ellis Park, Jantjies will earn his 100th Super Rugby cap when the Lions take on the Brumbies. 

Then, next weekend, the Lions are in Cape Town to take on the Stormers in what will be the last round of fixtures for South African teams before the international break. 

It means that Jantjies has two games left to try and push himself into the No 10 Bok jersey ahead of Pollard. 

"It depends if I perform for the Lions," Jantjies said matter-of-factly when asked about his chances of playing for the Boks this year.

"I’ve got my own set of standards and goals and things I want to get out of training and playing matches.

"I put my team first and the Lions come first for me every single weekend, so if I perform for the Lions then we’ll see if they want to pick me for the Springboks as well. That is obviously a goal of mine."

On his 100th cap, the 27-year-old opened up on the long road he had been on to get here.

"It’s obviously a massive milestone and something that I’ve always wanted to achieve one day," he said.

"I’m older now. I’ve had a lot of learnings as well along the way and the time has gone by so fast, but it’s been a good run."

Jantjies also paid tribute to some of the flyhalves that he had worked with in his career.

"I’ve had legends like Butch James and Carlos Spencer … guys that I could learn from," he said.

"At the Springboks I had Morne Steyn and guys like Pat Lambie and I’ve always looked at guys like Dan Carter, Jonny Wilkinson and Stephen Larkham … I’ve always just kept learning."

Lions coach Swys de Bruin, meanwhile, have a heart-felt tribute to a man he called the "ultimate general". 

Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:15.

Teams:

Lions

15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Madosh Tambwe, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Franco Mostert (captain), 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Lourens Erasmus, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Dylan Smith

Substitutes: 16 Corne Fourie, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Len Massyn, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Shaun Reynolds, 23 Ruan Combrinck

Brumbies

15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Andrew Muirhead, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 David Pocock, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio

Substitutes: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Nick Mayhew, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Tom Cusack, 22 Matt Lucas, 23 Andrew Smith 

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