Jantjies or Boshoff at No 10?
Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Johannesburg - Lions coach Johan Ackermann faces a tough choice in the coming week, whether to back his Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies or bring back the in-form Marnitz Boshoff to the 10 jersey ahead of their Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Blues on Saturday.
According to the superpsport.com website, Jantjies wasn’t convincing in his return to the Lions in their loss to the Sharks on the weekend and questions have been raised why Ackermann decided to bring the Bok flyhalf - who had just returned from a shoulder injury - back into the starting line-up when Boshoff was in such exceptional form, kicking the Lions to victory in two of his three games.
Ackermann may have defended Jantjies after the Sharks game, but there will need to be some forethought going into the team selection against a dangerous Blues side that have already indicated they are desperate to take some points back home from South Africa.
There will be those who point out that the move to bring in Jantjies backfired, and when Boshoff moved to the flyhalf position in the second half the Lions looked a much more composed team.
By then though they were chasing the game and it can be argued the win was no longer an option, with the Lions getting close, but never inspiring enough confidence to suggest they could have caused an upset.
Ackermann said his decision to bring in Jantjies was underlined by the fact that it would have been worse if he had to throw him in at the deep end against the Blues this coming weekend.
“My policy is that if you’ve got a Springbok you must use him,” Ackermann said of the flyhalf conundrum.
“A lot of people would say Elton didn’t look good in this game, but we had to throw him in at some stage. We’ve got to see what level he is at.
“It would have been tough to try him out against the Blues, and remember when he came on against the Pumas a few weeks ago (in a friendly match), we were behind and he created the moves that scored the three tries that won us the game.
Ackermann did concede the difference that Boshoff made in the second half, but said the nature of the game had changed by then.
“Marnitz did make a huge difference when he moved to flyhalf later in the game, but you must also take into account the nature of the game had changed by then too. Our forwards were coming more into it and Ryan Kankowski was yellow carded.
“In the second half we were able to put together some good drives, taking the ball forward which obviously benefitted the guy playing flyhalf at that stage.”
The Lions will regroup this week and will need to find answers, especially as the Blues are likely to take a similar approach to the Sharks and have a number of gamebreakers in their side as well.
Ackermann said he will have to decide in the week whether or not to keep Jantjies at 10 or return Boshoff to the spot.
“It is something we have to think about, the Sharks definitely got some soft tries, but then some things come off for you and some things don’t,” Ackermann explained.
“We’re going to have to assess the whole game, and it must be remembered that it was definitely not just Elton who caused the 30-9 scoreline on his own. We need to ask if we must back the player and give him another chance?
“And we need to remember that there are other players who did not make the right decisions under pressure, we can’t blame one player.”
Still the debate on the 10 jersey is likely to be the focus this week and Ackermann will need the wisdom of Solomon to make the right decision.
The Lions are also hoping to get at least one or two of their injured players back, with Anthony Volminck likely to return to the side. More will be known after they assess the injuries later on Monday.