JOHANNESBURG – The Lions brains trust have decided to continue with their experiment of playing Elton Jantjies at inside centre.
The regular No 10, who has played almost all his rugby in the flyhalf position, ran out as a late change in the No 12 jumper against the Chiefs in Hamilton last weekend and enjoyed a fruitful outing.
Gianni Lombard played at flyhalf, but sadly the rookie hurt his knee in that game and has returned home. Jantjies will, this weekend, have Lions youngster, Shaun Reynolds, on his inside.
Picking Jantjies at No 12 is an interesting choice by the Lions, who have regular inside centre Franco Naude on tour and on the bench this weekend, while Harold Vorster stayed at home after not making the tour squad for Australasia.
But, Jantjies showed last week he is more than capable of wearing the No 12 on his back. In the Lions’ style of rugby, Jantjies was really a second flyhalf, inter-changing with Lombard and he is likely to do the same with Reynolds this week.
Only scrumhalf Ross Cronje of the backs made more passes than Jantjies against the Chiefs.
Jantjies also handled the goal-kicking, something he did exceptionally well. He is likely to again play a crucial part in this weekend’s encounter at AMI Stadium.
Guiding Reynolds on his inside will also be one of his tasks on Friday, this being the flyhalf’s first appearance in Super Rugby this year.
And besides Reynolds, the Lions will also have a new scrumhalf this week, with Nic Groom again coming in for Ross Cronje, while further out in the backs, Ruan Combrinck gets a chance to show what he can do at fullback. Regular No 1 Andries Coetzee, one of the team’s standout players this season, will not feature at all this week.
In the forwards, the coaching team now led by Ivan van Rooyen, have opted to stick with the same group of players that started in Hamilton, except for hooker Robbie Coetzee, who’ll get a start in place of Malcolm Marx. The Springbok No 2 has left the squad to return home to rest, according to the nationally contracted players’ game time protocols.
On the bench, Jan-Henning Campher comes in to cover Coetzee, while fellow rookies Nathan McBeth, Franco Naude and Tyrone Green also get chances to test themselves against the Crusaders.
The Crusaders team, meanwhile, which will be named on Wednesday, will be minus three All Blacks players, namely Scott Barrett, Matt Todd and Owen Franks.
Lions: Ruan Combrinck, Sylvian Mahuza, Lionel Mapoe, Elton Jantjies, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Shaun Reynolds, Nic Groom, Warren Whiteley (capt), Cyle Brink, Kwagga Smith, Marvin Orie, Stephan Lewies, Carlu Sadie, Robbie Coetzee, Sti Sithole. Replacements: Jan-Henning Campher, Nathan McBeth, Johannes Jonker, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Ross Cronje, Franco Naude, Tyrone Green@jacq_west