WATCH: Elton Jantjies must bring out his ‘specific skill-set’ against Scotland, says Jacques Nienaber
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Cape Town – Elton Jantjies must bring his “specific skill-set” to drive the Springbok attack in Saturday’s Test against Scotland.
That was the clear message from coach Jacques Nienaber, who brought in Jantjies for Handré Pollard on Tuesday as part of his rotation plan for the Murrayfield encounter (3pm SA time kickoff).
The 31-year-old Jantjies is renowned for the variety he brings going forward, as he is able to provide width for the Boks with his passing game, while he is also able to pull off accurate cross-kicks for the wings to catch.
The former Lions stalwart attacks the advantage line himself as well, and often keeps the defence guessing.
All those attributes will hopefully be on display and help the Boks to continue their evolution on attack.
Just a short while ago, they were criticised for kicking too much attacking ball away against the All Blacks in Australia, but there were pleasing touches in last week’s 23-18 victory over Wales in Cardiff.
The intent to test the opposition with a mix of passing, running and kicking was evident, with Pollard passing out wide inside the Bok half, while Frans Steyn and Damian de Allende also broke the line with ball-in-hand.
Now Jantjies will be able to take that approach a step further when he lines up against the crafty Scotland No 10, Finn Russell.
“In terms of Elton, we’ve done some analysis on them and we feel that and identified some areas of opportunity, and Elton coming in must fit himself into the bigger plan… into the team’s plan. But then also, Elton has a specific skill-set – he needs to find, within our system and structures, a place for his skill-set,” Nienaber said from Edinburgh on Tuesday.
“Because otherwise, we could’ve selected somebody else. We selected him because he has a specific skill-set, and he must bring that out on Saturday.”
With regards to growing the Bok attack, Nienaber felt that Scotland’s well-organised defence will present the South Africans with a unique challenge.
“I don’t want to use the word balance, because it is such a cliché word in terms of finding the balance… But we want to take our opportunities. We felt that we definitely took some of our opportunities (against Wales), when it’s on to run – even if it is in our own half, if it’s on, we must take those opportunities,” the Bok coach said.
“But there were some that we missed. So, we are constantly trying to improve our decision-making and our awareness of when an opportunity is given to us, that we take that opportunity.
“In terms of Elton, yes, if you look at Scotland and their coaches, they have been the best defensive side in the northern hemisphere in 2020 and 2021 – they conceded the least tries and the least points in the Six Nations.
“So, they are a formidable side to break down. They don’t concede a lot of points and a lot of tries, and that speaks volumes for Steve Tandy, who joined Scotland after the World Cup.
“Steve and Gregor (Townsend) are both British and Irish Lions coaches, so they coached against us in the Lions series, where Steve was the defence coach and Gregor obviously the attack coach.
“So, that’s the quality of Test match that we will face this weekend.”