fast little loans
One of Allister Coetzee’s biggest strengths as a coach is managing players or “man-management”. He was the voice of reason when things became too hot at the Springboks during the Jake White era; he fulfilled a similar role at the Stormers when Rassie Erasmus was in charge, which eventually led to Rassie handing over the full reins to Coetzee, with great success.
But now the former Saru captain and scrumhalf faces a serious test of his famed man-management skills with regards to his new flyhalf, Elton Jantjies.
The 22-year-old came to Cape Town with great expectations that he was going to be the catalyst for the Stormers to find their attacking mojo after years of percentage rugby took them to the playoffs, but couldn’t get them over the line.
Last year’s Currie Cup success was the supposed precursor to the Stormers advancing their attack in 2013, but we saw only glimpses of that in the second half against the Bulls.
Jantjies is the man tasked with providing the spark within the team, but things aren’t working out at the moment. There are a number of reasons for this.
Firstly, due to the death of his father, Jantjies didn’t play in the two warm-up games, but then rejoined the side two weeks before the Loftus battle. The Stormers apparently had contact sessions at their training headquarters in Bellville, and Jantjies looked sharp during practices that were open to the media.
Nothing beats actual gametime, though, and it has shown in Jantjies’s performances against the Bulls and Sharks. He just appears out of sync with his teammates, and of course, the lack of synergy could just be down to the lack of gametime Jantjies has had with the Stormers.
But there can be no denying that he has also made some major mistakes on his own accord.
Yes, the overall gameplan against the Sharks was based around tactical kicking, but surely, Coetzee would not have instructed Jantjies to try a drop goal when he is on the Sharks’ 22-metre line and the Stormers have an overlap and a penalty advantage.
Jantjies also chipped the ball away on attack on the Sharks’ 10m line and knocked-on another one just inside the Stormers’ half. As he did in Pretoria the week before, he also missed touch with a penalty kick in Durban, and was run over by the opposing inside centre on defence, this time Frans Steyn.
In another instance, the Stormers had an overlap when Jantjies caught a Sharks kick on his own 22m line, but he just chipped the ball back without looking around him. That last mistake may have been down to the Stormers’ overall gameplan, but Jantjies is just not at his best right now.
The four missed kicks at goal at Loftus was also out of character, as he came into that game with an 80% Super Rugby career success rate. There is no doubt that he is a talented footballer who could challenge for the Springbok No 10 jersey again later this year, but things just aren’t gelling between Jantjies and the rest of the Stormers side.
So, the best thing for Jantjies and the team would be to bring Peter Grant back at flyhalf for the Chiefs game this weekend. Grant knows the Stormers’ playing patterns inside out, and has played a huge role in their success over the last few years. He is the banker in the team.
The Stormers are under enormous pressure to get a win over the Chiefs, as they have already lost twice. It’s also a home match, and a win is almost non-negotiable if they hope to make the playoffs.
Selecting Grant for Saturday’s match doesn’t mean that Jantjies is not a better flyhalf, especially in terms of an attacking game. The Stormers management have invested a lot of time (and money) in bringing him to the Cape and making him a key figure in the team set-up, and it would be naïve just to throw him away completely after only two games.
But it has been just over a month since Jantjies’s father passed away, and no one but the man himself will know how much it is affecting him. Thomas Jantjies was very close to both his rugby-playing sons (including Baby Bok flyhalf Tony), and was Elton’s personal kicking coach too. He doesn’t have that pillar of strength in his life any longer.
So, it’s been an extremely difficult last five weeks for Elton Jantjies on and off the field, and the young man just needs a break, and can still play a role off the bench for now.
The father figure in Coetzee needs to put an arm around Jantjies’s shoulders during these difficult times, for the benefit of the individual and the team.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
@NizaamCarr08: Not the reslt we wanted but rlly proud for the attitude we showed tonite. Will work even harder this time for a beta result. Thanx 4 support
WHO TO FOLLOW
@Tim_nWilliams (Tim Nanai-Williams): See what the classy Chiefs centre gets up to during his visit to Cape Town this week.
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