Rugby Championship

Twitter licking its lips as Jantjies gets another crack

2018-09-06 09:29
Elton Jantjies (Gallo)

Cape Town - The Springboks might win on Saturday. They probably won't, but they might. 

It is a difficult match to call. Both sides are desperate to remind fans and critics that they are on the right track towards Japan 2019, and both coaches are beginning to feel the pressure. 

More than that, both sides are evenly matched on paper.

But while the result might be up in the air, one thing you can be certain of is that Elton Jantjies will command attention. 

The 28-year-old gets another crack in a Springbok No 10 jersey, and once again he will have the brightest of spotlights beating down on him. 

Twitter will be armed with hashtags and one-liners locked, loaded and ready to be fired off at the click of a button.

Every mistake Jantjies makes will be amplified. To this group, Jantjies doesn’t have the mettle to cut it at Test level and he has been given far too many chances in the green and gold.

Then there will be those ready to go to war for the man who guided the Lions to three straight Super Rugby finals. To this group, Jantjies gets a raw deal and is one of the most naturally gifted flyhalves in all the land. He just needs the backing!

When these two excitable armies take each other on, perspective is often lost. 

Insanity, they say, is trying the same thing time and time again and expecting different results.

Jantjies has had plenty of Bok chances over the past two years without much success. What, then, is going to be different this time around?

Well, for the first time in a long time, Jantjies has the full, public backing of a Springbok coach. 

Allister Coetzee tried his best to say the right things when quizzed on Jantjies, but there was always the feeling that he was never convinced, and that a Handre Pollard return to fitness could not come quickly enough. 

Erasmus, though, came out after Jantjies' howler against England in the 3rd Test at Newlands in June singing a very different tune. 

"To take a team to three Super Rugby finals consecutively as the flyhalf, you must be so close to doing something really great," Erasmus said.

"I'm not here to defend a guy's character, but he's one of the best guys to work with in terms of analysing, wanting to get things right and staying to do extra (after training)."

Erasmus acknowledged that Jantjies had a mental problem in big matches, but he said it was the responsibility of the coaches to get him over that and that he had “no doubt” in Jantjies’ ability to step up should Pollard go down.

The talent, as most have always been able to agree on, has never been the issue. 

Why, then, is Jantjies such a polarising figure amongst South African rugby fans? 

Is it the haircut? The flashy cars? The tattoos? 

Why is there always the feeling that so many Springboks supporters want Jantjies to fail? Is it just so they can have the satisfaction of pointing fingers his way? 

Performance-wise, Jantjies has not been up to scratch when it matters most. 

He was woeful in the wet at Newlands, in every way possible. He will know that better than most ... the same way that Pollard will know that his goal-kicking has not been good enough over the last two Tests. 

There is also no doubt that Jantjies is running out of time and chances. At some point, he needs to put in a match-winning performance in a Springbok jersey when it matters, and it matters this weekend. 

The Brisbane conditions might provide Jantjies with another test in the wet.  

It will be cool, calm and the match will be played under lights, but there is likely to be a bit of rain in the air before and during the match.

Both sides will still want to have a go - the Wallabies have picked Kurtley Beale at flyhalf - and that will play to Jantjies’ strengths. 

And while the match is likely to be open, it is in executing the basics where Jantjies needs to shine. He needs to make his tackles, he must kick intelligently and accurately, he needs to look after the ball and, ultimately, he needs to control the match from start to finish.

This is his chance.

And if you aren't near a TV come 12:00 on Saturday, don’t worry. Twitter has got you and will keep you up to date on all of the good and bad that Jantjies dishes up. 

You might struggle, however, to find anything objective. 

Follow @LloydBurnard on Twitter ...

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