Jantjies: Decision-making key for Boks

Elton Jantjies says the Springboks need to earn the right to go wide in Saturday’s second Test against Ireland, writes CRAIG LEWIS in Johannesburg.

Jantjies was widely expected to wear the No 10 jersey this June after emerging as the form South African flyhalf in Super Rugby, which has seen him excel as the general of the high-flying Lions side.

However, Bok coach Allister Coetzee opted to start Pat Lambie in the opening Test against Ireland, and there was the possibility that Jantjies would have to wait a little longer to start his first match for the Boks.

In the end, though, Jantjies played for the better part of the final hour at Newlands after Pat Lambie was felled by flanker CJ Stander, while he has now been entrusted with the No 10 jersey for Saturday’s all-important second Test.

Coetzee has called for Jantjies to implement accurate game management against the Irish at Ellis Park, with the Boks having failed to maintain their composure and accuracy last Saturday despite having the benefit of a one-man advantage after Stander was sent off.

After being named to start at flyhalf on Thursday, Jantjies told SARugbymag.co.za that the Boks were fully aware of where things had gone awry against Ireland in Cape Town.

‘A real collective effort will be required from the group to come out on top this weekend, but we know what went wrong last time around. It’s now all about executing the fundamentals, playing in the right areas of field, and when we have possession, to use it wisely. We’ve identified what we want to do and it’s all about bringing the right mental attitude on game day.

‘I think the Test arena is well known for the importance of territorial dominance, and the team that plays in the right areas generally comes out on top,’ he added. ‘It’s about ensuring we are accurate with our decision-making, and that we have the right balance between knowing when to run, when to kick and when to pass.’

The Boks have also identified the need to be far more patient and direct on attack, while using their kicking game to greater effect.

Jantjies said he was fully aware of his role in this regard.

‘I don’t think our decision-making was necessarily lacking against Ireland last weekend, but sometimes we wanted to go wide too quickly and didn’t earn the right to do so. Those are some of things we’ve worked on … We want to straighten up on attack and avoid being too lateral with ball in hand.’

Jantjies will again combine with his Lions teammate Faf de Klerk in the halfback pairing, and he said that understanding between the two would be essential on Saturday.

‘We always challenge each other as players and we’ve been training well this week and looking to find each other again. We’re really looking forward to ensuring we really run the show and make the correct decisions between nine and 10, which will be crucial.’

Photo: Peter Heeger/Gallo Images

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Craig Lewis