FILE - Tiaan Swanepoel. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
FILE - Tiaan Swanepoel. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Losing Elton Jantjies is a blow for the Lions but Ivan van Rooyen has options

By Morgan Bolton Time of article published Apr 15, 2021

Share this article:

JOHANNEBURG - Like all dynamic systems, ebbs and flows and if a team is to survive and adapt, then it must roll with those undulations.

So, when Elton Jantjies and the Lions announced on Tuesday that he would be departing on a temporary basis to play in France for Top 14 side Pau, you would expect a few punches landed hard on fans and the union alike.

Make no mistake, losing Jantjies is a blow to the Johannesburg-based team, as the 30-year-old has played a big part in the team’s success and has weathered an equal measure of lean times.

But with a Bulls fixture barrelling down on the Lions in a scheduled Rainbow Cup opener at Loftus Versfeld, coach Ivan van Rooyen has had no choice but to take the hit, and is now ready to strike back with plans of his own to fill the gap left by the flyhalf.

And Van Rooyen has options.

First in line and battling for that coveted No 10 jumper will be Tiaan Swanepoel and Fred Zeailinga, but they are not the only options.

“Tiaan played a couple of games in the preparation Cup and it is logical to expect Fred will play a bigger part,” Van Rooyen explained in an interview with Independent Media yesterday.

“Tiaan is a solution for us at flyhalf ... Jordan Hendrikse is with the SA Under-20s – he won't be involved next week, but is in the squad.

“Fortunately, if one guy is not available, then the other guy can step up – it is a great opportunity.

For the immediate future it is (Swanepoel and Zeilinga at No 10).

“Fred and Tiaan are both established 10s. Tiaan has played a lot of junior rugby at No 10, even though we are currently playing him at 15.

“There is also Luke Russouw and Aidynn Cupido in our system; they are also recognised players who can play No 10 or 12.”

The departure of Jantjies will certainly have a roll-on effect on positions in the backline, especially at fullback. If Swanepoel finds himself utilised at pivot to a greater extent, then the No 15 jersey is up for grabs. Here, too, Van Rooyen is confident he has the personnel.

“It is important for us to have, especially, players who can play in multiple positions," said Van Rooyen.

"Someone like EW (Viljoen); he can play No 15, 14, 13. Tiaan can play No 10 or 15.

“With the squad sizes getting smaller, I think it is important to have pivots that can play more than one position. If Tiaan is the better option at No 10, then EW will play a bigger role at 15.

“We haven't finalised the team as yet so we still need to decide that, but if one of the guys gets an opportunity at No 10, then it will be time for EW and Divan Russouw to step up at 15.”

Van Rooyen also disclosed that Jantjies would not be available for selection for the opening three games of the Rainbow Cup, starting with the Bulls next weekend, and that a discussion will take place afterwards as to whether to recall him to the team.

With the future of that tournament still uncertain, it might well be that Jantjies only returns once the Springboks come calling.

Share this article: