Jantjies 'feeling' the pressure

    2011-03-01 08:11
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    Pieter Jordaan

    Johannesburg – Elton Jantjies is feeling the relentless pressure of Vodacom Super Rugby.

    The player’s mentor at the Lions – former All Black flyhalf Carlos Spencer – believes more confidence is the solution for the young flyhalf’s poor goalkicking to date in the tournament.

    Jantjies (20) succeeded with only 2 out of 5 kicks at goal for the second successive weekend against the Stormers on Saturday.

    And, just as was the case against the Bulls, the Lions lost narrowly, even though their highly-rated opponents had to defend desperately at the end.

    Had Jantjies succeeded with the kicks he missed, things could have been different. But it’s not as if the promising flyhalf doesn’t know it.

    “It’s confidence,” Spencer said of Jantjies’ goalkicking poor success ratio of 40% to date in this year’s tournament.

    “He managed it last year. He can kick. But this is a different tournament. He is under a lot of pressure, which is taking its toll. He now has to work on his rhythm.

    “You need an 80% success ratio in this competition and he isn’t anywhere near that. We’re paying for that and he knows it. And that knowledge means added pressure. Therefore he has to put it right.”

    Spencer and head coach John Mitchell have already made it clear that they will back the players they are picking.

    Burton Francis and André Pretorius are other flyhalf options, but it’s also vital to get Jantjies sharp as soon as possible.

    In last year’s Currie Cup he managed a success ratio in excess of 80% with his goalkicking. He kicked well in pressure games against Western Province (10/10), Griquas (7/7) and Free State (7/7).

    “We have to learn from the defeats. The guys we are playing with now are our future. Remember that we are playing against experienced teams loaded with Test players,” said Spencer.

    “We have one Test player (Jantjies); well, he played one game against the Barbarians. He is only 20. Even so, that’s no excuse for the defeat, especially as we are increasingly realising that we can do this.”

    The Blues will be the Lions’ first overseas opponents of the season at Coca-Cola Park on Friday night.

    The Lions have a Blues legend in Spencer. He played 96 Super Rugby matches for the team and is knowledgeable about rugby in Auckland.

    “We know they won’t kick the ball back as much (as the Stormers and Bulls did). Their back three will use their possession to attack and test our defence. Our defence will therefore be the most important thing this weekend,” said Spencer.

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