South Africa

Jantjies: The way forward

Thu, 30 May 2013 19:40
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He is returning for the Currie Cup
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Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann is to sit down with Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies to "plot the way forward".

Ackermann, speaking to this website in the  build-up to his team's encounter with the touring Samoan team at Ellis Park on Saturday, said there is a chance that Jantjies might return to Johannesburg before the completion of the Super Rugby season.

Jantjies, on loan to the Stormers, has a clause in his contract which allows him to decide if he wants to stay in Cape Town till the end of July.

However, with the Stormers unlikely to feature in the season-ending playoffs - which gets underway on July 19 - Ackermann is keen to have his Bok No.10 back in time for the last of their 'warm-up' matches ahead of the promotion-relegation series against the bottom-placed South African team.

The Lions play Griquas on July 13 in their last competitive outing, before the two-match promotion-relegation series on Friday, July 26 (away) and Friday, August 2 (home).

And the Lions coach to have most of his loan players back for at least the Griquas game.

"I truly believed the Stormers would have been in the play-offs [which would have meant Jantjies would have been available to them]," Ackermann told this website.

"We have to start planning ahead now and I do have an appointment with him, while I know his agent will also be speaking to him about the way ahead.

"If the Stormers are out of the [play-off] running and he wants to come back to play for us, that would be great.

"He is returning for the Currie Cup [competition] and if there is nothing left for him at the Stormers [no play-off game], he might as well start training with us so that he can be ready for the Currie Cup.

"We also don't know if he will be involved in the Bok team [for the June Tests]. If he stays with the [Bok] squad, he also won't be available to us.

"If we see by Saturday that he is not in the Bok frame, we will be able to make a call on him."

Ackermann, although disappointed that the planned matches against tough French opposition has been called off, is happy that his team will remain active throughout June and July.

"This [Samoa] is our last international opposition," Ackermann said, adding that the matches against the Sharks and Stormers, as well as replacement matches against the Blue Bulls and Griquas will keep his team in shape.

"The Bulls will be a combination of their players who didn't get game time in Super Rugby and the next tier, as it is on the same day as their game against the Sharks.

"I expect it to be a similar team to the team we played at the Orlando Stadium [back in early February].

"For us it is about contact and game time, ahead of the promotion-relegation games.

"We don't have much of a choice, given that the French teams have now all pulled out at the last minute.

"The Bulls and Griquas will be using those games as preparation for the Currie Cup, so it will suit us in that regard as well."

He said most of his loan players will only return a week or two ahead of the promotion-relegation matches.

"I might have them all back ahead of the game against Griquas, but the week before the promotion-relegation matches we are off - so they might not be with us in a game situation.

"However, I am not too concerned about that. People are under the impression that it is a lot of players, but actually it is just a handful of players - like Franco [van der Merwe], Callie [Visagie] and Lionel [Mapoe].

"Jaco [Taute] is out injured, while Elton [Jantjies] is still up in the air.

"Those three, Franco Lionel and Callie, know exactly how we play - it won't be a problem for them to settle back in with us. A week or two at training will be enough to allow them to settle back in.

"If we are uncertain in anyway, those are three players that can make an enormous difference off the bench.

"If it was six, seven or eight players [coming back in at a late stage] it would have been a problem, but three players are easy to manage."

By Jan de Koning

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