Springboks

Jantjies woeful at Newlands, but still has Bok future

Elton Jantjies (Gallo)
Elton Jantjies (Gallo)

Cape Town - In the build-up to Saturday's third Test between the Springboks and England at Newlands, coach Rassie Erasmus had said that he preferred to not substitute his flyhalves in Test matches. 

READ: Rob Houwing's Bok ratings

Erasmus said he would back his playmaker even when things weren't going well, trusting them to make the decisions - good or bad - throughout the match. 

That didn't stop him, however, from yanking Elton Jantjies off the Newlands turf before the hour-mark in South Africa's 25-10 loss to England in the third Test. 

Jantjies, so often spoken of as a flyhalf who is unable to make the step up from Super Rugby to Test rugby, was all at sea in the miserable Cape Town conditions on Saturday. 

He missed a routine shot at goal, kicked a routine clearance out on the full and his handling let him down throughout. 

It all resulted in a display of game management that will do nothing for his long-term Springbok prospects and any hopes he has of wearing the No 10 jersey at next year's World Cup. 

Handre Pollard hardly set the match alight when he came on for the final 20 minutes, but his performances in the first two Tests suggest that he is far ahead in the race to be South Africa's general. 

Speaking after the match, Erasmus explained that his call to take Jantjies off was based on the fact that he could see that the 27-year-old was under pressure. 

"I said that I don't like to take off the No 10 when he is making decisions. I feel that as long as a 10 is making decisions then you can judge if they are good or bad and then afterwards you can go and fix it," said Erasmus.

"In this game, unfortunately, Elton will tell you himself that the pressure was piling up.

"The pressure was onto him and our pack wasn't really dominating as much as it was in the previous games.

"At that stage when I subbed him I thought that I could relieve the pressure on him and still win the Test match.

"It's definitely not an Elton problem; our pack was not dominating this game."

While Erasmus suggested after the match that Jantjies still has a future with the Boks, the Newlands crowd had no issue voicing its collective disapproval with what it had seen from the flyhalf. 

It is not often a South African crowd gets on the back of one of its own players, and Erasmus accepted some responsibility for that.

"I must look more at myself there than at Elton," Erasmus said.

"Maybe in the way me managed things and integrate players ... but we just have to make brave calls and sometimes while making those brave calls some individuals are going to get singled out.

"When you play in weather like this with young outside backs, sometimes you put that player in a position where he has to swim.

"People on the outside might be thinking that this is last chance saloon for him, but we might be thinking long-term.

"Today we learnt a few things and they weren't only about Elton. We learnt a lot of things about playing in wet weather.

"He is a strong character and he's got another two or three Super Rugby games to get his confidence back again."

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