Bok coach Nienaber defends Elton Jantjies first-half horror show

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Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies.
Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies.
Gordon Arons/Gallo Images
  • Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber defended Elton Jantjies' poor showing in South Africa's 32-29 win against Wales at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
  • Nienaber said Jantjies has been short on game time and no match simulation would have been enough to get him ready for the Test.
  • Nienaber said it's always been in their culture to take players off at half-time when they felt they had given their all.


Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber defended Elton Jantjies' errant performance in South Africa's 32-29 win against Wales at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, saying ring-rust played a huge role in his display.

Jantjies was given a vote of confidence to start ahead of Handre Pollard for the Test, but didn't distinguish himself well with the boot and in general play.

He missed two straight-forward penalties, overcooked a touch-finder, and wasn't at the races with his match-management.

MATCH REPORT | Willemse sparks second-half magic to save Boks from embarrassing first home defeat against Wales

Nienaber came to Jantjies's defence, saying the 31-year-old may be one of his experienced heads, but didn't have proper game time under the saddle.

Jantjies plays for the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes, but a shoulder injury, along with his team's poor showing in the league, cut his action time short.

"We've got a couple of boxes to tick, but we've selected the team the way we did. Elton has played less than 30 minutes in the year," Nienaber said.

"He did his shoulder and obviously went through his rehab, but his club in Japan didn't get to the final, so there weren't any games to expose him to.

"The only exposure he had for the better part of the year was training, so we needed to get him some games and it was always going to take some time for a guy who has been out for a while.

"Fortunately for us, he got 40 minutes under the belt, but even if you train guys as much as you want and put them into contact sessions, there's no pressure there.

"It was good for us to expose him to Test rugby."

RECAP | Springboks edge Wales 32-29 after Loftus thriller

Nienaber refused to be pressed into saying Jantjies's poor first-half showing was the reason he didn't appear for the dramatic second stanza that the Boks won 28-11.

Nienaber used past examples of taking players off before the half-time break as an example of how they let specific players empty their tanks before taking them off the field.

Willie le Roux, who had an impactful game from the bench as the replacement, was yanked off at half-time in last year's 31-29 win against New Zealand in Townsville.

"You take a guy off when he's given everything. We've taken guys off early because once we feel they've done," Nienaber said.

"Once we see that they've done their job, we take them off. You must also take performance into context.

"We played against a good side and we thought it was going to be tough. He got through 40 minutes."

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