Elton is straining on the leash
Lions coach Johan Ackermann says that Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies is 'hungry' to show what he is capable of against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
Lions coach Johan Ackermann says that Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies is 'hungry' to show what he is capable of against the Chiefs in Hamilton this weekend.
The impressive form of ace goal-kicker Marnitz Boshoff has seen Jantjies play little more than a cameo role on his return to the Lions this season, but he has been given an opportunity to start against the defending champions on Saturday and Ackermann says that he cannot wait to make his case.
"Elton is very hungry, he is training at a high standard, he is really putting in extra work on his off days, so again one must take into account that he is one of our experienced players and he is still a Springbok so he deserves that opportunity," he said.
The Lions coach explained that he aims to give every player in the squad an opportunity on their overseas tour, as they look to become the first South African side to win a game in Australasia this season.
"I have made it quite clear that I want to give all 27 players an opportunity, I think it is unfair to a player to be away from home and travel for four weeks and put in the same effort in training and sacrifices without an opportunity to play," he said.
After watching Boshoff from the replacements bench for most of the season, Ackermann feels that the time is right to let Jantjies show what he can offer as the starting flyhalf, although he made it clear that Boshoff will also get a chance in the No.10 jersey on tour.
"Obviously in the last few weeks Bossie [Marnitz Boshoff] had his opportunity and he was the starting ten, but I feel that Elton [Jantjies] is hungry and he deserves the opportunity to start.
"It is a pure rotation policy there and the same with the nines, Faf [De Klerk] started a lot of games and then we gave Ross [Cronje] an opportunity and Faf is back for the type of game we want to play.
"So it is purely rotation and we will see some more during the tour," he said.
Ackermann is hoping that the change will also have a positive influence on Boshoff's game as the two push each other to greater heights.
"I told Bossie that to keep them fresh and hungry and on their toes I need to rotate them at the right times and obviously the guy who uses the opportunity will get the game-time. Bossie has had a lot of game-time and now I think that Elton is hungry to get a start," he said.
The depth that he has at flyhalf is something of a luxury for Ackermann, and although he is sacrificing continuity his rotation policy could well get the most out of both players if it works out.
Jantjies has fallen some way from the genuine Springbok contender he once was, and he will know that this game against the Chiefs is a big opportunity to remind everyone of what he has to offer, if he can steer the Lions to victory in Hamilton then Boshoff might have a tough time getting his starting spot back.
By Michael de Vries