Brendan Venter says the Lions coaches will need to rebuild their relationship with flyhalf Elton Jantjies.
In his latest column for The Times, Venter criticised the decision to substitute Jantjies in the 62nd minute of last Saturday's quarter-final against the Sharks. Jantjies had missed four kicks at goal and thrown an intercept pass that resulted in a Sharks try.
'I don't understand the rationale behind the call to pull him from the field and replace him with fullback Andries Coetzee. Just like players make mistakes, coaches are prone to strange decisions under pressure and to commit errors. Jantjies has played very well for the Lions over a prolonged period.
'I would like to know if the coaches can rebuild their relationship with Jantjies, which was damaged by taking him off in the second half. The Jantjies situation is a side issue the Lions will have to address this week. It's not something that can be swept under the carpet, because much of the Lions' success has been built around trust and believing in each other.'
Venter said the Lions had 'seemed nervous in everything they did' against the Sharks, and that some of their players, including Springboks, 'looked unsure and scared'.
The Bok assistant coach urged the Lions to play without fear and express themselves again against the Hurricanes.
'For me, the issue isn't about the Lions winning or losing this weekend, because that is outcome-based, but rather about coming up with a performance they can be proud of. It's about producing a Lions-like performance. The definition of which is playing for each other, working harder than other people and performing like a band of brothers.
'The injured Warren Whiteley is a loss for the franchise not only as a captain, but as a player. Everybody keeps referring to him as a leader, which is true, but they forget he makes plenty of effective tackles, carries the ball often and is also a useful lineout option.'
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