CAPE TOWN - Sports people, be it fans or whatever, often have convenient lapses in memory. And if you doubt that at all, you need only look at the biggest talking point post the Super Rugby quarter-finals to see that it is indeed so.
That talking point is Elton Jantjies and his performance at the weekend, and I find it quite laughable that some are so quick to jump on the Jantjies-bashing bandwagon.
In the Lions’ last-gasp Super Rugby quarter-final win, in his 84th appearance for the team, Jantjies missed four of his six kicks at goal, while his general play didn’t reflect what the exciting flyhalf has shown us so many times either.
He was replaced in the 62nd minute by fullback Sylvian Mahuza, and it was wing Ruan Combrinck’s late, 55-metre penalty that snatched the win.
Jantjies was off against the Sharks. It was far from his best game. We all know that.
But that doesn’t take anything away from his ability and what he has proven he can do.
Or, I might be wrong. Last Saturday’s performance might have been the missing piece of evidence, the evidence that finally proves that Jantjies just doesn’t have BMT.
After all, remember how he struggled against the Hurricanes in last year’s Super Rugby final? Remember how the Kiwis’ line speed forced him into making errors?
Well, funny enough, I bet people would be quick to connect those dots and come to the conclusion that he just doesn’t have the temperament to perform when it really matters.
And, conveniently, I bet most of those nay-sayers have also forgotten that the Lions, collectively, as a team, struggled in that Super Rugby final.
Then they might argue that last year he had poor outings with the Springboks as well. And again, the fact that almost the entire Bok outfit was in disarray will probably have also been forgotten.
Jantjies has been the main man for the Lions for quite some time. He has thrilled with his play-making ability and he has been one of the most successful goal-kickers throughout the regular Super Rugby season this year.
So remember that whenever you doubt his abilities. Besides, it was one bad game, one.
One thing I do want those who are so quick to write Jantjies off to remember is the number of chances (if you can even count all of them) other players, be it at international level with the Boks or at Super Rugby level with their franchises, have created.
Players who can’t even, try as they might, squeeze themselves into the same class as Jantjies... think of how many there have been. Or even players who are also of the utmost quality, because there have been a number of them too. Think of them as well.
And I’m not going to name any. Because this isn’t about them. It’s about Jantjies.
It’s about a player who can create play like few can. It’s about a player who deserves more credit. It’s about a player who does have what it takes.
Think of how he went in the Springbok jersey when it actually looked like he had the freedom to just play his game. And think of how he’s performed for the Lions year in and year out.
I don’t see how Jantjies can ever consistently be at his best if he constantly has to live in fear of producing one poor performance because hey, if he does, he’ll have to hear how Allister Coetzee needs to start reassessing his options at flyhalf because he is just not up to it. And if that goes for him then it should go for Handre Pollard as well and it should have applied to Morne Steyn too.
Jantjies had a poor outing last weekend, and that shouldn’t have happened. But guess what, it happens. Jantjies is better than that and we all know it. And I hope, come this Saturday, he proves it... yet again.