Cape Town - Is Elton Jantjies ever so slowly on his way out of the Springbok picture? I am just beginning to wonder.
Look, he’s long been the “option two” at flyhalf anyway, whenever Handre Pollard has been available, though often enough tended to still earn a berth among the substitutes previously.
He will always be vulnerable, in addition, to omission from the bench for major Bok matches whenever they root for a very forwards-heavy 6-2 split - something coach Rassie Erasmus has done now for the last three really frontline Tests at RWC 2019, if you include his selection brew this week for the imminent semi-final against Wales.
As a specialist flyhalf (though not incapable of occupying the No 12 channel despite his relatively modest build) Jantjies understandably holds less appeal than a Frans Steyn as the lone “non-scrumhalf” back sitting on the splinters: the strapping veteran covers considerably more berths, of course, than Jantjies does.
As the going gets progressively tougher and the stakes higher in the tournament, Erasmus has become increasingly partial to risking - and it is that, in many ways - his 6-2 bench formula, enjoying the ability to hit opponents with all but two pack units from his unusually high-quality overall stock of forward resources. There’s just no let-up in the boiler room.
But could it also be, at least to some extent, a sign that Erasmus is becoming increasingly less partial to the longtime Lions-based left-footer?
Remember that in his first season as Bok mastermind, last year, he entrusted Jantjies far more routinely than during 2019 with spots in the match-day 23, whether as a starter or sub.
Just for example, the deft-skilled but often enigmatic customer did crack the bench nod, behind Pollard - who would sometimes move to midfield quite seamlessly late in games - for all four matches on the 2018 end-of-year tour of Europe.
Jantjies has never struck me as an especially comfortable tourist, if you like ... most often reserving his best first-class rugby for when he is in his most familiar, hard-pitch highveld atmosphere, and especially his beloved franchise home of Ellis Park.
He also blew a golden opportunity to dazzle against modest neighbours Namibia, when calling the shots at No 10, earlier in the World Cup with an unforced-error-laden showing, even if he was substantially better against Canada.
Now in his 30th year, Jantjies is becoming less and less of a longer-term option for the Boks, and could face a particularly stern challenge for ongoing Bok status in 2020 from exciting young Stormers star Damian Willemse - with the Boks now in Japan anyway - if the 21-year-old finally gets a generous crack, under the new John Dobson regime, at pivot in Super Rugby.
Willemse, a little ominously for Jantjies, also offers broader scope than he does for backline versatility when - at very least - considered for impact purposes in Bok match-day 23s going forward.
Perhaps I will be proved wide of the mark with this suspicion, but Elton Jantjies may need to go some from here if he is to add substantially to his current tally of 37 Test caps ...
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