Elton Jantjies loosens up during the Springbok captain's run at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Friday. Photo: Patrick Hamilton/BackpagePix

When Elton Jantjies wakes up in Brisbane on Saturday morning, he is likely to see a cloudy sky and rain falling.

A steady 40-60 percent chance of showers have been predicted for the Queensland capital on Saturday – just the forecast Jantjies would not have wanted on his big day, when he will start at flyhalf for the Springboks against the Wallabies at Suncorp Stadium.

Or should he rather want it to rain? 

The precipitation is expected to stop by 7pm Brisbane time, which is an hour before kickoff. 

But the pitch will be wet and conditions slippery… and that is just what Jantjies needs to prove once and for all that he can cut it as a Test No 10.

Jantjies’ nightmare in the third Test against England at a wet Newlands, where almost everything he tried behind a pack beaten at the collisions went wrong, and struggles against Wales in Washington, will be foremost in the minds of many Bok supporters.

In fact, that was the reaction in some quarters on social media, where his critics couldn’t understand why he was being given yet another chance by Rassie Erasmus.

But having turned 28 last month, and with 26 Bok caps behind his name, this Rugby Championship showdown actually comes at the right time for Jantjies.

There is no doubt that he can be the “general” at flyhalf, like he has been for the Lions in guiding them to three Super Rugby finals.

But he has to show that he can be as effective in wet weather as he is on a firm Ellis Park surface on a sunny Johannesburg day, and he will get that opportunity in Brisbane.

Jantjies cannot allow his Test reputation to be one of a “dry-weather flyhalf”. He needs to put to bed any lingering question marks about his tactical kicking and defence, as well as not go “into the pocket”, as he tends to do in wet conditions.

In actual fact, he has been granted an opening by the Bok coach to become the first-choice pivot again. Don’t laugh – let me explain.

Handré Pollard, as talented as he is, has not covered himself in glory in 2018. 

He has missed some crucial goal-kicks at times, slipped tackles, and hasn’t been the same commanding presence as a No 10 that he has been at Under-20 level.

Yes, we all remember the tries against the All Blacks in 2014, but has Pollard really dominated at Test level? 

Still only 24, he has had to battle a number of injuries over the last few years, and that may be part of the problem that has hampered his growth and development as the Bok No 10.

Erasmus said this week that both flyhalves knew a few weeks ago already that Jantjies would start against the Wallabies in Brisbane.

But does that mean that Pollard is a shoo-in to wear the No 10 jersey against the All Blacks in Wellington next weekend? I wouldn’t like to think so.

Considering Pollard’s current form, if Jantjies produces a top-quality display against Australia, it would be difficult for Erasmus to justify bringing the Bulls pivot back in New Zealand.

Jantjies has been waiting for another chance after what happened against England, and while it isn’t quite a ‘last-chance saloon’ situation, he’s got it.

And while he will hope the Bok forwards will give him front-foot ball on Saturday, it’s up to him to demonstrate that he should be the first-choice flyhalf.

 

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