Bok coach Nienaber defends Elton Jantjies horror show in first half

Springbok fly-half Elton Jantjies.

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  • Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has defended Elton Jantjies’ poor performance in South Africa’s 32-29 win over Wales at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
  • Nienaber said Jantjies ran out of playing time and no match simulation would have been enough to prepare him for the test.
  • Nienaber said it had always been in their culture to take players off at half-time when they felt they had given their all.

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has defended Elton Jantjies’ errant performance in South Africa’s 32-29 win over Wales at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, saying ring rust played a part huge role in its display.

Jantjies received a vote of confidence to start ahead of Handre Pollard for the test, but didn’t fare well with the boot and overall.

He missed two direct penalties, overcooked a bite alarm and wasn’t in the races with his game management.

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Nienaber came to Jantjies’ defence, saying the 31-year-old may have been one of his experienced leaders but hasn’t had proper playing time under saddle.

Jantjies plays for the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes, but a shoulder injury, along with his team’s poor performance in the league, cut his playing time short.

“We have a few boxes to tick, but we picked the team the way we did. Elton has played less than 30 minutes in the year,” Nienaber said.

“He did his shoulder and obviously went through rehab, but his club in Japan didn’t reach the final so there were no games to expose him to.

“The only exposure he’s had for most of the year has been in training, so we had to offer him games and that was always going to take time for a guy who had been out for a while.

“Fortunately for us, he had 40 minutes on the clock, but even if you train the guys as much as you want and put them in contact sessions, there is no pressure there.

“It was good for us to put him on display at Test rugby.”

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Nienaber refused to be pressured into saying Jantjies’ poor first-half performance was the reason he didn’t show up for the dramatic second stanza as the Boks won 28-11.

Nienaber used past examples of players being removed before the half-time break as an example of how they let specific players empty their tanks before removing them from the pitch.

Willie le Roux, who had a hard-hitting game from the bench as a substitute, was ripped off at half-time in last year’s 31-29 win over New Zealand at Townsville.

“You take a guy off when he’s given his all. We take guys off early because once we feel like they’re done,” Nienaber said.

“Once we see they’ve done their job, we take them off. You also have to put the performance in context.

“We played against a good team and we thought it was going to be difficult. He went 40 minutes.”

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