Juandre Joubert, on SportsClub, writes that Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus will start with Elton Jantjies in Brisbane against Australia as confirmation that the Lions flyhalf remains part of his 2019 World Cup plans.
Erasmus has insisted Jantjies is good enough to play Test rugby. He has started with Jantjies in two of the six Tests. Handre Pollard has started the other four.
Jantjies has started 19 times for the Springboks since his first Springbok tour seven years ago. He has played 26 times for South Africa.
Of those 19 starts, 17 came in 2016 and 2017 when Allistair Coetzee was the coach.
Jantjies experienced a horror afternoon for 60 minutes at Newlands in the third and final Test against England. Erasmus defended the player afterwards and said he subbed him because the player was losing confidence as the match progressed.
He insisted Jantjies would be in his Rugby Championship squad and said that while Pollard had the No 10 jersey, Jantjies was next in line.
Jantjies has come under fire on social media and on many traditional media platforms for not having BMT. The criticism is that when the pressure is intense, he folds. The other common view is that he can only impress behind a dominant pack.
Historically, there are only a handful of No 10s who could still influence a game when playing behind a beaten pack. Ordinarily, very few flyhalves shine when there isn’t a platform.
Pollard, like Jantjies, has never turned an international result when the Boks have taken a beating up front.
The Springboks’ flyhalf stock does not look as good as New Zealand’s, who have three world-class no 10’s in Beuaden Barrett, Damian McKenzie and Richie Mo’Unga.
And they have the option of luring Aaron Cruden back from Montpellier should there be injury to any of the mentioned trio.
Let’s have a look at how Jantjies and Pollard compare in the Bok Jersey:
Pollard has played 31 Tests and Jantjies 26, Pollard started 23 and Jantjies 19.
Pollard has won 17 out of the Tests he played, giving him a win percentage of 54,8 while Jantjies won 11, lost 13 and drew two of the Tests he has played, with, a 42,3 win percentage.
Pollard scored more points than Jantjies in a Bok jersey, 254 compared to 215, but he has played five more matches.
Jantjies fares slightly better than Pollard from the kicking-tee: he has 78,64% success rate compared to Pollard’s 75,63%. Pollard struggled in that aspect in Durban, missing five out of seven kicks at goal. He also missed some early kicks in Mendoza.
Jantjies often gets a raw deal in the media and on social media platforms, but it was only a year ago that he was outstanding against France and Argentina in scoring 88 points in five Tests. The Springboks won all five Tests.
Brisbane will show that it is not the international end of the road for Jantjies, but he can’t rely on Pollard’s inconsistency and injury misfortunes to secure his place. He needs to fight for the No 10 jersey and show that in the big moments he can be that big match player.