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Lions and Stormers fans get what they want

September 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

It’s not often that everyone get what they hope for but it does happen sometimes.

A number of the Lions senior players extended their contracts (so far only JC Janse van Rensburg and Hendrik Roodt signed elsewhere) and will be available for Super Rugby 2014.

Probably the most awaited signing, by both Lions and Stormers fans is that of Elton Jantjies and the young man realised that the Stormers game just doesn’t suit his style of play. According to Beeld Jantjies re-signed for two years with the Lions.

Other players who have extended their contracts are:

Marnitz Boshoff, Lionel Mapoe, Alwyn Hollenbach, Ruan Combrinck, Franco van der Merwe, Jaco Kriel, Warren Whiteley and Willie Wepener.

Anthony Volmink, Stokkies Hanekom, Andries Coetzee, Derick Minnie and Willie Britz are already under contract through 2014.

Contract negotiations are continuing with other senior players.

The Golden Lions also contracted nine players from EG Jansen High School, winners of the Beeld Trophy, as well as eight players from the Golden Lions Craven Week side. 29 of the 32 new juniors contracted are from Gauteng schools.

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Elton Jantjies return to the Lions

July 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

According to Rugby 365 Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies will be available for the Golden Lions knockout games against the Southern Kings after playing the last two round robin games for the Stormers before returning with two weeks to settle into the squad.

Coach Johan Ackermann is obviously quite chuffed with this development but it remains to be seen how he will integrate Jantjies into a squad that has gelled very nicely with Marnitz Boshoff being a pillar at #10.

However, we’ve seen through the year so far that Ackers hadn’t really found the backup #10 he wanted in either Lions or Guy Cronje.

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Don’t expect miracles

February 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

Where he used to carrying the hopes of a beleaguered team on his young shoulders he has now been thrust into a whole new ball game – to help a successful team win an elusive trophy, a massive responsibility for a youngster not deemed, by many, to be good enough for the Boks.

Throughout his relatively short senior career he has operated under immense pressure, not only on to perform on the field and the pressure of supporters expectations for him to turn his team’s fortunes around. In the media has been, at times, written off and at other times, talked up while in the Springbok camp he has been relegated to bag carrier most of the time. Rugby fans tend to magnify his perceived weaknesses and often chose to ignore his strengths.

Now, suddenly, the Stormers management and fans see his as their great hope to finally win a Super Rugby trophy. In virtually every media article about the Stormers there is talk about his x-factor and how he can improve the Stormers’ attack, help them score more tries and help them possibly win the trophy.

Unlike the other young flyhalves like Lambie and Goosen, who only have to worry about their own performances within their team set-up, the “responsibility” placed on Jantjies is so much more. Nowhere do you read that Lambie, now that he is the Sharks’ first choice flyhalf, is the key to them winning the trophy and nobody is tasking Johan Goosen with getting the Cheetahs into the play-offs.

I’m afraid that in the end Jantjies’s season will be measured by the Stormers success or failure, rather than by his own individual performances.

Come Friday night Elton Jantjies makes his debut for the Stormers against the Bulls, a debut fraught with traps and pitfalls. Not only hasn’t he played a practice match due to the untimely death of his father, he also steps into a team featuring new combinations from the front row through to the back three while he plays with new halfback and centre partners, both his # 9 and #12 are Super Rugby rookies with Nic Groom having played 2 matches and Damian de Allende making his debut.

These first matches often serve to shake off the off-season rust and, combined with the number of new combinations, I don’t expect this game to be filled with adventurous rugby and the Stormers suddenly scoring tons of tries, especially if one consider that they are playing a very experienced and settled Bulls side.

I hope the Stormers and other rugby fans will be realistic in their expectations for this match and for Jantjies in this match.

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HM: Jantjies is 3rd choice behind anyone else

November 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

After Elton Jantjies accidentally got more that 5 minutes on the field against the All Blacks when Johan Goosen went off injured Heneke Meyer is making sure that this won’t happen again by once again excluding the youngster from the match 23.

During the winter tests and Rugby Championships Jantjies was third in line behind Morne Steyn and Johan Goosen and now that Goosen is injured he is third behind Lambie and Steyn.

I wonder who will leapfrog him into the top two should either Steyn or Lambie get injured?

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Bok #10 – The jury is still out

November 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

Saturday’s match against Ireland brought very few answers to the question of who is to be the Bok flyhalf as Pat Lambie failed to establish himself as the frontrunner in the contest for the #10 berth. Like Elton Jantjies against the All Blacks a month ago he was no more than “solid”, with a poor first half and an average second half, and solid is just not good enough.

Nothing is his display on the day would have convinced Heyneke Meyer that he is a better option than Morne Steyn or Johan Goosen so it will be interesting to see whether the Bok coach will give him another chance against Scotland or whether he will, in fairness, give Elton Jantjies the opportunity to start and play 80 minutes.

It is frustrating for supporters of both Lambie and Jantjies that these two talented youngsters have yet to show the skills we all know they are capable of.

JP Pietersen’s Tackle:

A fraction early and probably didn’t deserve a yellow card.

About the game:

The Irish clearly caught the Boks off-sides in the first half as they manned up and beat the Boks at their own physical game. The Bok forwards were guilty of not protecting the ball in the collisions and too many players were without support when the went into tackles resulting in turnover ball for the Irish.

Of the forwards only Adriaan Strauss and Eben Etzebeth seemed to be game for the contest and Adriaan stepped up as the on-field leader trying to get his charges going, both in his game and through his very vocal “team talks”. Willem Alberts, Juandre Kruger and CJ van der Linde had very little impact on the game and they should be replaced in the starting line-up for the game against Scotland.

While the second half was better for the Boks the backline remained fairly anonymous as the Boks kept the ball mostly amongst the forwards and the only stand-out backline player, for the wrong reasons, was Francois Hougaard. Surely it is time for him to be dropped, if only to the bench.

Credit must go to Irish for not only catching the Boks off guard with their physical approach but also for their solid defence that gave the Bok backline very few opportunities to get anything going.

My team for Scotland:

15 Jaco Taute
14 JP Pietersen
13 Juan de Jongh
12 Jean de Villiers (as we have no other #12 on tour)
11 Lwazi Mvovo
10 Elton Jantjies
9 Ruan Pienaar
8 Duane Vermeulen
7 Marcell Coetzee
6 Francois Louw
5 Franco van der Merwe
4 Eben Etzebeth
3 Jannie du Plessis
2 Adriaan Strauss
1 Heinke van dr Merwe (I won’t risk Beast and unfortunately JC Janse van Rensburg isn’t on tour)

16 Schalk Brits
17 Pat Cilliers
18 Guthro Steenkamp/CJ van der Linde
19 Flip van der Merwe
20 Willem Alberts/Arno Botha
21 Francois Hougaard
22 Pat Lambie
23 Lionel Mapoe

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Jantjies under pressure

October 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

I am looking forward to see how Elton Jantjies will do playing Super Rugby without all the pressures that he has had to contend with during his short senior career, playing for a side that is at or near the top of the log rather than contending for the wooden spoon.

During the three years he has been playing senior rugby he has never really had the luxury of playing without external pressures as the Lions were always struggling with on-field as well as off-field issues and were always under the cosh.

If his Currie Cup campaigns of the last two years, when the Golden Lions were at or near the top of the log, are anything to go by he should blossom at the Stormers.

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Lions Player Updates – Jantjies, Mapoe loans confirmed

October 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

Elton Jantjies finally signed on the dotted line and will be on loan to the Stormers for 2013 Super Rugby. With the Stormers struggling with a lack of flyhalves during 2012 they are also trying to convince Catrakilis to stay.

Lionel Mapoe’s loan deal for 2013 Super with the Bulls have also been confirmed. Lionel has been a revelation at #13 this year and this has earned him a spot in the Boks EOYT squad. It will will be interesting to see where he plays for the Bulls.

Butch James seems to have changed his mind about retiring and is negotiating with the Sharks to serve as Pat Lambie’s backup in 2013. According to Keo he says that the deal is about 90% done. He has had a good year with the Lions and there definitely is still some rugby in the old bones.

Lions Player Gains & Losses

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The changing of the guard

September 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

With Johan Goosen starting and Jantjies, Taute and Lambie on the bench we could just be seeing the start of a new era in Springbok rugby, provided that the bench players get reasonable time on the field of course.

But be that as it may, these four youngsters represent the future of Springbok rugby and it is up to them to grab this opportunity with both hands to ensure that the old guard is well and truly put out to pasture.

This group of youngsters provide the Springboks the opportunity to move forward and become one of the most exciting teams in world rugby as all four are x-factor players who can, once they settle in, take any team apart provided their forwards give them enough good ball, and we have the forwards who can do that.

Here’s to the new guard!

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The Boks vs the Aussies

September 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

The Bok squad for the last two test in the Rugby Championships sees little change with only Elton Jantjies and Jaco Taute coming in as uncapped players. Coenie Oosthuizen comes back into the squad while CJ van de Linde comes in as one of the few props in the country who can cover both sides of the scrum.

As I predicted earlier Jaco came in because “Jaco is big, strong, fast and versatile”. Make no mistake, I believe Jaco deserves a chance because he is good enough but I foresee Pat Lambie not making the match 22 now.

As for Elton, why is he there if Heyneke Meyer isn’t going to play him. In today’s game against the Sharks he displayed all the the skills of a great flyhalf. Playing with little ball he gave inside passes, outside passes, long passes, short passes, made long kicks, short kicks, chip kicks, everything to keep his team in the game, in short he was brilliant.
But will he get game time? I doubt it.

Jaco on the other hand will be on the bench for the test against Australia and get on the field after about 60 minutes. Not that I begrudge him that, he is a great young player. Even though he is only 21 it feels like he has been around for ages. But I feel for Elton, he is the most complete flyhalf we have and he is being screwed with.

Moving on to the game against the Wallabies, this is the ideal time to give the youngsters a go. The Bok forwards have started to gel nicely against the All Blacks and if they can repeat that performance on Saturday the backs should get more than enough good ball for the talented youngsters to give it a good go but unfortunately I don’t see HM making any major changes with only Dean Greyling’s spot on the bench to be filled by either Coenie Oosthuizen or Pat Cilliers and possibly Jaco Taute getting Pat Lambie’s bench spot.

Bok squad:

Willem Alberts (Sharks) – 15 Test caps
Andries Bekker (Western Province) – 27
Craig Burden (Sharks) – 0
Pat Cilliers (Golden Lions) – 3
Marcell Coetzee (Sharks) – 7
Juan de Jongh (Western Province) – 10
Jean de Villiers (captain, Western Province) – 79
Jannie du Plessis (Sharks) – 37
Eben Etzebeth (Western Province) – 6
Johan Goosen (FS Cheetahs) – 2
Bryan Habana (Western Province) – 81
Francois Hougaard (Blue Bulls) – 22
Elton Jantjies (Golden Lions) – 0
Zane Kirchner (Blue Bulls) – 19
Juandré Kruger (Blue Bulls) – 5
Pat Lambie (Sharks) – 15
Tiaan Liebenberg (Western Province) – 3
Francois Louw (Bath, England) – 12
Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks) – 39
Lwazi Mvovo (Sharks) – 7
Coenie Oosthuizen (FS Cheetahs) – 1
Ruan Pienaar (Ulster, N Ireland) – 58
Jacques Potgieter (Blue Bulls) – 3
Frans Steyn (Sharks) – 53
Morné Steyn (Blue Bulls) – 41
Adriaan Strauss ( FS Cheetahs) – 16
Jaco Taute (Golden Lions) – 0
CJ van der Linde (Golden Lions) – 73
Flip van der Merwe (Blue Bulls) – 18
Duane Vermeulen (Western Province) – 2

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Where to now, Elton?

September 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

Heyneke Meyer has sent Elton Jantjies a very clear message: “There is no space for you in my Bok team” so at the tender age of 22 his rugby career is in danger of stalling and he must be very careful about the decisions he make now.

His contract with the Lions allows him to play Super Rugby for another franchise and the reports are that he has been talking to all the South African franchises but that no decision has yet been made. I’m sure that there would also be some overseas offers on the table. The possibility of another union buying out his contract is also not improbable.

From reports it is also clear that he hasn’t given up hope yet about making it into the Bok side so decisions need to take that ambition into account. Going overseas will have little value, except in monetary terms, as his international future is tied to the Boks after having played in an IRB approved match while on tour as well as having been on the bench during the third test against England.

The fact is, he has to play Super Rugby for one of the South African franchises to have the best chance of playing his way into the Boks side. But which franchise to play for?

Kings (0/10)

Joining a new franchise with little chance of making it out of the nether regions of the log makes little sense. Just as the Lions produced very few Boks in recent years so will the Kings.

Bulls (2/10)

With Morne Steyn the Bulls blue eyed boy the last thing Elton needs is to sit on the bench behind a lesser player. He would also not want to cause family ructions by stepping into the queue ahead of younger brother Tony who have just re-signed with the Bulls.

Cheetahs (3/10)

Apart from the fact that local lad Johan Goosen will get the starting spot the Cheetahs will never be better than bottom half of the log contenders and a move here will do little for his career.

Sharks (5/10)

With Freddie Michilak gone there just might be an opportunity but that will depend on the Sharks plans with Lambie. The talk is that Plumtree wants to use Lambie more at flyhalf next year effectively closing the door on Jantjies moving there.

Stormers (9/10):

The Stormers has made it into the semis or better the last three years only to fall by the wayside when it mattered. Even though they generally have good backline players they cannot seem to get them into an attacking mode during Super Rugby. Their defence-orientated game is in drastic need of an attack component and this is where Jantjies can make a difference. This is probably the best option for Jantjies, both in terms of game time but also into of career-enhancement.

Much as I hate to say this, and not meaning to be disloyal, but if Jantjies can negotiate his way out of his Lions contract he should do that. There is no future for him at the Lions anymore.