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The title of this post is “Elton Jantjies OR Patrick Lambie Who Is Better” There is absolutely no doubt that Jantjies would have been selected over Patrick Lambie had he been fit and healthy.
If a fit and healthy Jantjies was not selected there would have been a HUGE outcry by politicians and South African Rugby administrators, especially by parties such as the EFF and ANC youth League who has been calling for his inclusion over the past couple of years, using the race card for his omission from previous Springbok teams.
SA rugby public and Springbok squad can breath a big sigh of relief that Jantjies is not available for the June test series, and that there will be no racial arguments over the flyhalf position, for the time being, at least. The reality is Jantjies is not Springbok material and his inclusion would have been a disaster for the Boks, here is why.
Elton Jantjies Vs Patrick Lambie
As we mentioned above the Springbok backline is very thin on experienced player. You have a scrumhalf making his debut (Faf De Klerk), and a centre pairing with a mere 14 test caps between them. Since the flyhalf is the link between scrumhalf and centre it is of vital importance that the Springboks have a steady hand at 10, a veteran, to steady the ship at the all important flyhalf position, not only to provide a calming influence on the youngsters but also to provide relief for the backline when needed and make the correct decisions. The latter does not happen instantaneously and takes a number of test matches to perfect.
Considering Jantjies has only played 1-test for the Springboks, until this far, we are of firm believe that a green flyhalf (Elton Jantjies) combined with the current Springbok team would have been disastrous for South African rugby. We are NOT saying that experience wins test matches but we do believe that a blend of form and experience is of vital importance. If Coetzee wanted to select Jantjies he would have needed to shuffle his backline to bring in more experience to assist Jantjies, something which South African rugby currently lacks (depth & experience.)
Aside from Jantjies being inexperienced, something which we do not hold against him, since everyone needs to start somewhere, there is a number of reasons why we believe Jantjies is not Springbok material, the list follows below.
Elton Jantjies Weaknesses
BMT – Jantjies is notorious for lacking big match temperament, despite being a hugely talented player Jantjies does not posses BMT, which is an absolute necessity for any international flyhalf. Jantjies has choked a number of times in the past, and we simply don’t trust him with kicking a winning penalty in overtime. Lambie on the other hand…well we all have seen what he has done in the past. Being cool, calm and collective Lambie is a born flyhalf.
Goal Kicking – Jantjies is NOT a good or reliable goal kicker, he has missed some shockers in recent times, average to poor goal kicking combined with a lack of big match temperament (BMT) is not something a coach wants from his starting flyhalf. Lambie on the other hand is ranked amongst the best goalkickers in world rugby! To put the two into perspective, Lambie has a 90% kicking success rate in Super Rugby 2016, while Jantjies has an average goal kicking success rate of 69.2%!
Errors – Yes, Jantjies is brilliant on attack and was one of the best flyhalves during Super Rugby 2016, he also played a massive role in the Lions successful Super Rugby campaign until this far, but consider this:
When you watch Jantjies closely he does a number of brilliant things, but he also makes an extraordinary amount of errors. For every good thing Jantjies does there is an equally bad error to match it.
Yes this can be contributed to the Lions high risk style of playing, however there is a huge difference between provincial and international rugby and one wrong move can often be the difference between winning and losing. We are not saying players should not make mistakes or bad decisions or that Lambie is perfect, it is just that Jantjies makes an extraordinary high amount of errors, to many errors to be trusted with the all important flyhalf position.
Playing Style – We have yet to see what type of gameplan Allister Coetzee will implement with the Springboks, but here is the reality- you have to stick with what you are familiar with, and make use of what is at your disposal. Coetzee is a defensive coach, he is arguably the best defensive coach in the world, but has failed miserably in the past to play an offensive game plan, this WILL NOT miraculously change overnight!
Combine Coetzee inability to play offense, with a Springbok backline coach in, Mzwandile Stick, who has zero experience at international level, and was in charge of the worst offensive and defensive team in Super Rugby, The Southern Kings!
When considering the above all indications points towards Coetzee playing a defensive game, much like he did with the Stormers. The problem for Elton Jantjies is that he is an attacking player, but does not offer much in terms of strategical kicking and decision making, a fundamental of Allister Coetzee’s gameplan, thus unfortunately for Jantjies he does not fit into Allister Coetzee’s playing style.
Coetzee / Jantjies relationship – When the Lions got relegated from the 2013 Super Rugby competition, the Stormers took Jantjies on loan for the 2013 season, Jantjies failed miserably with the Stormers, despite coming of a stellar Super Rugby season in 2012. The Stormer forked out a considerable amount for Jantjies, however, his performance was so bad with the Stormers that local fans started to “boo” him and he got replaced midway through the season. One has to consider the above, and ask the question what level of trust does Coetzee have in Jantjies? The answer? Very little, to none!
Inconsistency – Consistency is what separates the true greats of the game from the avarage players, use Richie McCaw as an example, you always knew what you got from him and he rarely had a bad season. True Jantjies is currently one of the best flyhalves in Super Rugby, however, we believe he (Jantjies) first needs to repeat what he did in 2016, before he deserves the Springbok flyhalf jersey. In 2012 Jantjies also had a stellar season, and was labeled the hottest commodity in South African rugby, but failed miserably in 2013. Jantjies has been much to inconsistent for our liking. In the 50 test Lambies has played until this far, he was not always great but he was consistent and he always produced when it was required.
Conclusion – Why Patrick Lambie Is The Better Flyhalf
We would like to make it very clear that we are NOT against Elton Jantjies. However, we believe that the current hype around, Jantjies, is premature! Yes, he is having a
good, brilliant season, but he has NOT done enough to proof he is Springbok worthy. Should he be able to repeat what he did in 2016 on a consistent basis, sure…then give him his chance, BUT a couple of good Super Rugby matches, does not make you Springbok worthy!
Lambie on the other hand has proved himself for a number of years now, not only is he experienced but he is currently in the form of his life! Perhaps, the unluckiest player in South African rugby, for too long Lambie had to play second fiddle behind players like Morne Steyn, and Handre Pollard, often coming of the bench or being played out of position. Finally the time for Lambie to establish himself as the starting Springbok flyhalf has, come and there is no doubt he will flourish in his role as South African 10!
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