Jantjies, Mapoe on track

Springbok backline coach Mzwandile Stick says the feedback on injuries to Elton Jantjies and Lionel Mapoe remains positive, writes CRAIG LEWIS in Stellenbosch.

Jantjies, who is on the cover of the latest SA Rugby magazine, suffered a fractured finger in Super Rugby and it was initially feared that he could be in doubt for the Ireland series, but he is making a speedy recovery. Lions teammate Lionel Mapoe has had to lighten his workload this week after tweaking his back, but he is not expected to be in doubt for the opening Test at Newlands next Saturday.

‘We’ve been getting positive feedback from the medical staff,’ Stick confirmed after Thursday’s training session in Stellenbosch. ‘Lionel just tweaked his back in a gym session, it’s nothing serious, but we need to manage him carefully.

‘Elton was expected to be out for a few weeks, but he has been recovering well and was able to get involved a bit today [Thursday] where he was able to hold the ball. So hopefully next week he will be able to train full out with the team.’

The Boks have picked three specialist flyhalves in their squad, with Pat Lambie training fully and in line to wear the No 10 jersey if Jantjies is deemed unavailable, while 24-year-old Garth April will provide further backup.

Stick said it had been great to see April benefiting from his time in the Bok set-up.

‘Garth is someone who’s done so well. He played in New Zealand during Super Rugby against top flyhalves and coped under those conditions. He had a great tour, and I think for him to be here alongside the likes of Pat and Elton is really beneficial. Allister [Coetzee] has done really well to reward form in his selections and we couldn’t ask for a better balanced squad.’

Stick is also one of the newcomers to the coaching staff, and said he was personally soaking up plenty of knowledge from those around him.

‘The key thing for me is to focus on the backline and the strike moves. I must be able to complement the work done with the other coaches, and to find balance between Johann [van Graan] as the attack coach and Louis Koen [as the kicking consultant]. We need to be well organised as a coaching staff.

‘It’s been great to be involved and have time working closely with Louis, Johann and Allister, who has been a mentor of mine. We’ve been given lots of freedom, with Allister overseeing everything, and I feel we’re on track as a team.’

Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images

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Craig Lewis