Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies says the ultimate aim of his short-term loan to French club Pau is to keep him sharp for the upcoming British & Irish Lions series.
The Lions on Tuesday confirmed that their captain and incumbent flyhalf would be joining Pau as a ‘medical joker’, a term used to describe a player who joins on a short-term loan deal as injury cover.
While the deal is not permanent, it will ultimately be aimed at ensuring that Jantjies is at peak fitness by the time the Test series against the British & Irish Lions starts in July.
Speaking to Independent Online, Jantjies explained that the move had the support of both the Lions coaching staff and SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus.
‘It was a collective decision,’ Jantjies said. ‘In terms of myself, Rassie Erasmus, [Lions CEO] Rudolf Straueli and Cash van Rooyen.
‘It was made just looking at me as an individual and how we can get myself into the best possible condition and the best I can be before the Lions tour. I’ve got this opportunity to go and play in the Top 14 – it is a different competition, a different experience and there are obviously quality teams that I am going to play against.
‘It is part of our preparations for the Springboks.’
Jantjies may find himself thrust into the role as the Springboks’ starting flyhalf against the Lions, as Handre Pollard, who started the 2019 World Cup final, is currently recovering from injury.
Pau, who are currently second from bottom on the Top 14 log, have six more fixtures in the regular season, not counting a potential relegation playoff if they finish 12th. Jantjies is still confident that he will be able to get enough game time under his belt once he arrives in France.
In Jantjies’ absence, the Lions will look to either Fred Zeilinga, who recently completed a trial period with the team, or Tiaan Swanepoel.
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