Jacques Nienaber defends decision to leave Elton Jantjies on the bench
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Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber says he “wanted to put Elton (Jantjies) on”, but an injury concern prevented him from doing so.
First-choice fly half Handre Pollard was off his game again after struggling performances in the Boks’ two losses against the Wallabies. Despite this, Jantjies - who was one of three backs on the bench along with Frans Steyn and Herschel Jantjies - was an unused sub.
Pollard failed to exert control, while his kicking out of hand was also patchy.
During the post-match press conference, the Bok coach explained why he didn’t use Jantjies in the 17-19 Rugby Championship defeat in their 100th Test against the All Blacks.
“I wanted to put Elton on in the 70th minute, but the medical team reported that Marco van Staden had a shoulder complaint, and that meant Elton was the last guy on the bench.
“That made it a tough call, but we didn’t want to be left a man down if Marco had to come off, and we were leading at the time.”
While the narrow margin will surely hurt the Boks, it was a performance to laud in many aspects.
Not only did they produce a major step-up from their last two games, they also had the Kiwis visibly shaken a good few times.
The Boks produced a solid set-piece performance, their defence, however, was again leaky. There were a lot of positives as well - the biggest one being the huge step-up in performance - and Nienaber went on to credit his players for their performance.
“At the end of the day, I thought it was a proper Test match and, as expected when one plays two, there are always going to be very small margins. We have our DNA, and they have theirs.”
“Not one person or player did not believe we could beat the All Blacks. Not a speck of doubt was in our minds. We knew it would be a grind, and it would always come down to a narrow margin in the end result, that’s how it has been since 2018 between these two teams.”
The Boks conceded another yellow card - something they surely would have wanted to fix after the Australia games - and it’s an area Nienaber lamented.
“We are conceding too many offsides penalties, and our discipline has to be looked at. But, overall, I think there was a big step up in this game, and we were a lot more on song in terms of our preparation.”
With the win, the New Zealanders clinched the Rugby Championship.