Ackermann: Don't put Jantjies in a box
INTERVIEW: Lions coach Johan Ackermann believes that Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies must be given the freedom to play his natural game.
The Springboks play their third match of this year's Rugby Championship when they do battle with Australia in Brisbane on Saturday.
Jantjies will again be in the spotlight, as the Boks look to bounce back from a loss to Argentina a fortnight ago.
Ackermann, addressing the media in Johannesburg, suggested that Jantjies may be playing under instructions - which is why he is struggling to carry his Super Rugby form into the international arena.
Jantjies had a breakthrough Super Rugby season, having guided the Lions to the Final with some spectacular running rugby.
That form prompted pundits to suggest that the Springboks may have found their answer to their flyhalf poser.
However, after seven Test caps for his national team, Jantjies has not yet been able to make the step up from provincial (Currie Cup) and Super Rugby to the international stage.
It was again evident in South Africa's 24-26 loss against Argentina in Salta two weeks ago, when Jantjies' decision making was not up to the required standard.
Jantjies had a poor first half against Argentina, before sustaining an injury early in the second half with a bruised thigh.
However, if there is one man who knows what is required to bring out the best in Jantjies, it is his mentor at the Lions.
Ackermann told journalists that Jantjies has the qualities to play the game at international level and he will get better with experience.
"It's all about freedom," Ackermann said, then asking: "How much freedom does Elton have?
"It's difficult to judge from this side, but for me he has the ability and I do believe one must back him as we [Lions] did in Super Rugby.
"They must just keep on playing him and he will get better and better.
"I know it's difficult at Test level, because it's all about winning and the results. The supporters and your country also get frustrated," Ackermann added.
The Lions coach said that it is not only Jantjies who needs time to find his feet at international level, but the entire team.
"Before Ireland I think they [the Springboks] had a week or two.
"Before the Test-series started against Argentina I think they also had a week or two, because the Lions went all the way to the Super Rugby Final. Nothing is going to settle in only a week or two," explained Ackermann.
The last time South Africa played the Wallabies in Brisbane was during last year's Rugby Championship and on that occasion, centre Tevita Kuridrani scored a try in the final seconds of the match, which handed Australia a 24-20 victory over the Springboks.
By Josh Isaacson