Springboks

Super Rugby form will determine Bok No 10

2016-02-10 14:21
Elton Jantjies (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Handre Pollard's horrific injury has opened the door on the debate as to who the Springbok flyhalf should be when the three-Test home series against Ireland kicks off on June 11. 

The 21-year-old Pollard is the first-choice South African flyhalf - that has been widely accepted by most of the game's critics for some time now. 

But Pollard will not feature this season and he faces a long road to recovery after rupturing knee ligaments this week. 

The debate over who his replacement in the green and gold will be then gathered momentum with the news that Sharks flyhalf Pat Lambie had suffered a shoulder injury. 

The extent of Lambie's injury is not fully known, but surgery has not been ruled out. On the surface it does appear that he will be out for some time. 

Now the name of Elton Jantjies is being mooted in growing numbers, who believe that Pollard's absence is the perfect opportunity to give the Lions playmaker a real shot at international level. 

Jantjies was unlucky to miss out on a place in the Rugby World Cup squad last year - his Super Rugby form was superb. 

Instead, coach Heyneke Meyer opted for the seasoned Morne Steyn as his third-choice flyhalf, a decision that didn't make a whole lot of sense given that Steyn's only contribution at the tournament was a sentimental appearance off the bench against the USA in the group stages. 

But the reason that Jantjies was so heavily favoured for a place in that squad was because he had excelled throughout the 2015 Super Rugby season. 

It suggests that talk, in February, about who the Bok No 10 will be in June, is a little premature.  

When the first Ireland Test kicks off at Newlands on June 11, 14 rounds of Super Rugby will have already been played. 

That is a lot of rugby, and if Jantjies is to throw his name in the Springbok hat he will have to repeat last year's performances in 2016. 

Super Rugby form will determine who Pollard's replacement is. 

It is a clean slate, and all six starting South African flyhalves will know that extended good form in the competition will bring attention from the rugby-loving public.

South African rugby fans are knowledgeable enough to recognise good form when they see it. 

Young flyhalves like Robert du Preez (Stormers) and Tian Schoeman (Bulls) are set for massive opportunities at their respective franchises, and there is no reason why they can't launch themselves into the Bok mix if their performances spark good results. 

Sias Ebersohn is also back in the country with the Cheetahs, though he has many critics to win over if he is to ruffle the feathers of the national selectors. 

The point is that there is still far too much rugby to be played for there to be discussions over Springbok selection now. 

Let's first see who the new coach is, and then see how these guys play. 

There is also Johan Goosen overseas ... and Demetri Catrakilis. 

Lambie will surely play enough Super Rugby before the June Tests to be considered, but nobody should be picked on reputation alone. 

A new Bok coach means a new era.

If Jantjies wants that jersey, he'll have to earn it all over again. 

Follow Lloyd Burnard on Twitter ...

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