It was a ’big toss up’ between Morne’ Steyn and Elton Jantjies for Lions decider, says Bok coach
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CAPE TOWN - Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber says it was a “big toss up” between Morne Steyn and Elton Jantjies for the Series-decider against the British & Irish Lions on Saturday(kick-off 6pm).
Steyn has been included on the bench as the Bok coaching staff went for a five-three split after going six-two last week.
Steyn (flyhalf) joins Herschel Jantjies (scrumhalf) and Damian Willemse (utility back) among the replacements.
During the team announcement press conference, Nienaber explained the selection.
“It was a toss up between Morne and Elton.
“Morne played for us in the SA ‘A’ game and I thought he controlled the game quite well in that game against the British & Irish Lions. Elton was excellent for us in the first Test match, when he came on for Handre (Pollard) when Handre started cramping at the back end of that Test match.
“It was a big toss up. In our discussion, when we went through our selection process, it’s a long season. We are going straight into the Rugby Championship against Argentina next week. Then it’s the Rugby Championship in Australasia and then the endof-year tour. So, it’s also about keeping everybody up to date, giving them game time, trying to spread the load.
“Like I said, we could have put Elton in there. It’s like for like. Both of them were excellent in the outings they had against the Lions.”
During the 2009 Series, Steyn slotted the winning penalty from 50-plus metres out in the second Test.
While it was a memorable moment, Nienaber said he’s hoping it doesn’t come down to that on Saturday.
“Hopefully, it doesn’t come down to that. But that’s one of the things that weighed in Morne’s favour. The fact that he has been there … he has experienced big games like this. He understands the pressure that will be there.
The Bok coach went on to say that his exclusion doesn’t mean the Bok coaches don’t think Jantjies has BMT.
“I am not saying that Elton wouldn’t have the big-match temperament. I have seen him do it for us before in big games as well. In 2018 in New Zealand, when we had our first victory there, he came on in the last 20 or 30 minutes and between him and Handre at 10 and 12, they had an unbelievable partnership.
“It’s a long season and we have to make sure that everybody stays sharp and match fit. Elton has done nothing wrong. If you look at his actions in the first Test, you can go through every single action and he was phenomenal.
“It was just the decision that we made and we feel is the best way to go for this Test match.”