Why Bok coach opted against Elton Jantjies return: 'It would have been unfair'

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Jacques Nienaber (Gallo Images)
Jacques Nienaber (Gallo Images)
  • Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber says it wouldn't be fair to risk Elton Jantjies for Saturday's Rugby Championship game against Argentina.
  • Jantjies hasn't returned to the Springbok team, something that led to Nienaber starting with Frans Steyn at 10.
  • Nienaber has faith in the 35-year-old Steyn to deliver in the key position.

In Durban

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber says it would have been unfair on Elton Jantjies if they roped him back into the fray for Saturday's Rugby Championship decider against Argentina at Kings Park.

Jantjies' well-documented absence from the Springbok group, along with injuries to Handre Pollard and Damian Willemse, mean veteran Frans Steyn has been pressed into service at No 10 at international level for the first time in 14 years.

Nienaber said it would have been nice to have Jantjies, a senior player in the Bok back division, back to solve their current crisis, but added they also had the responsibility of looking after a player's mental health.

READ | Springboks turn to veteran Steyn at flyhalf for Durban title decider

"It would have been nice, but for us and the sensitivity that is needed to deal with mental health issues and the external pressures he needs to deal with from a human perspective, it would have been unfair to get him back in the team," Nienaber said.

"There would be a lot of external pressure on him and for us, the individual as a human being comes first."

Springbok team:

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Canan Moodie, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Frans Steyn, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff

Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Duane Vermeulen, 21 Kwagga Smith, 22 Faf de Klerk, 23 Kurt-Lee Arendse

Steyn has been happy to pop up in different backline positions from the Boks, but flyhalf is a position that generally requires specialists.

However, Steyn played the bulk of his formative rugby at flyhalf at Grey College before experimenting with different positions at higher levels.

The absence of a specialist No 10 has also seen Faf de Klerk doubling up as the reserve flyhalf. Like Steyn, he has formative rugby experience at pivot as Nienaber has reverted to the six-two forwards/backs split on the bench.

ALSO READ | Steyn's a short-term solution, but former Sharks coach Bashford picks holes in SA's 10 system

Nienaber has faith in the duo to deliver in their respective positions, especially with their experience.

"He's played 10 for the Cheetahs in the Currie Cup and he's also trained a lot at 10 for us," Nienaber said.

"The same is applicable to Faf, who is also covering flyhalf and I guess when you lose a couple of 10s, that's where you sit.

"Frans covers the same positions as Damian, but with 10 years of more experience." 


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