Nicolás Sánchez says the Jaguares will target Elton Jantjies during their Super Rugby quarter-final at Ellis Park on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
The Argentinians have qualified for the Super Rugby playoffs for the first time since joining the competition two years ago. This is will be Sánchez’s last shot at the title as he is off to join Heyneke Meyer’s Stade Français at the end of the season.
The flyhalf told SARugbymag.co.za that while the Lions will provide a stern challenge, there is no reason why the Test-laden Jaguares cannot beat them in their own backyard.
‘The Lions are one of the strongest teams in Super Rugby. We know that our defensive work will be all-important. We have to attack them without the ball to avoid conceding tries.
‘But I am convinced we can beat them. Based on our form in recent games, we have confidence in our team. Our best side will be playing this week, the side that has been solid in many aspects throughout the season. It’s going to be a very hard battle, but I believe in what we can do.’
Sánchez was full of praise for Jantjies, his direct opponent, and believes their personal battle will be key to their respective teams’ chances of winning the game.
‘He is a great player who must be followed closely. We have to rattle him because when he is comfortable, their team gains confidence and becomes very dangerous.’
The Jaguares were the leading team in terms of ball-carries (2,045) and rucks won (97%) after the regular season, and ranked two for defenders beaten (413).
‘We expect a physical match, as is usually the case with the South African teams,’ said Sánchez. ‘The set piece will be key, but we are not going to change our game plan or system for this match. We will continue with what we did this year. We want to be clinical in our territory and when we move into Lions territory we have to be dynamic and play an open game.’
While this could be Sánchez’s last game for the Jaguares, he says he hasn’t thought much about it because all his focus is getting to the semi-finals.
‘There is a possibility that it will be my last game, but I’m hoping I will have more games with Jaguares in the semi-final and final. I try to enjoy every day and not think about my time with this team coming to an end.
‘It is very important for Argentinian rugby to play in the Super Rugby playoffs. In previous years, we were far from achieving it and to have done so this year is something historic and a great opportunity for us.’
Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images