Ackermann: Jantjies can be our Barrett

Sun, 21 May 2017 07:32

SUPER RUGBY REACTION: Lions head coach Johan Ackermann believes flyhalf Elton Jantjies can be the Springboks' version of All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett if he is given the freedom he needs.

Speaking to the media following his side's 51-14 mauling of the Bulls, Ackermann believes that Jantjies has the execution and decision making to match the best in the business.

"I am very biased," he said after being asked about his thoughts on Jantjies' performance.

"I always said Elton [Jantjies] has got what it takes to play at the highest level. He showed tonight [against the Bulls] that his goal kicking was phenomenal [ensuring the tries were converted and ticking the scoreboard over.]

"He plays with confidence and freedom and if he is given that platform and if the players around him can understand him, then he can be the type of player to match Beauden [Barrett], in terms of execution and decision making," Ackermann said.

The Lions blew the Bulls apart in the first half, racing to a 39-14 half-time lead but the coach was let down by a drop in intensity during the final 40 minutes.

"We need to be a lot more clinical in the second half. Our speed and accuracy dropped, which needs to be fixed. So we are not that happy [with the second half performance].

"We won't have the luxury of the lead we had going forward [into the play-offs]. If you want to live with the New Zealand teams, you have to maintain the intensity for the full 80 minutes," he added.

Captain Warren Whiteley was pleased with the way his team reacted to the challenge set for them prior to the encounter.

"We were challenged [by the coaching staff] to lift our intensity. The response to that was phenomenal and the willingness to play was there. We exited really well, changed it up really well and got out of our half really well. 

"When we got into their half, we put the pressure on [them] through good decisions. It was certainly a complete first half performance but we couldn't finish in the second half.

"There wasn't a feeling of 'this is easy' at any stage because the tries they [Bulls] scored were easy. We felt that they could have scored from anywhere. 

"It was always going to be a mental challenge coming back from tour and I feel as though we were in the right mindset [during the game]," Whiteley said.

@rugby365com

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