Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Boks set to back Willemse at flyhalf with Jantjies, Pollard out of Euro tour

For Jantjies it is not the end of the road for his Bok career, according to Rassie Erasmus, the director of rugby in South Africa.

The Springboks look set to back Damian Willemse as their starting flyhalf for their end-of-year-tour, with Johan Goosen as his back-up, after it was confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that Elton Jantjies and Handre Pollard would not be available.

Jantjies is definitely out of the tour due to a lack of game time, according to Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus, while coach Jacques Nienaber confirmed that Pollard underwent surgery after limping off on his debut for Leicester Tigers recently and will more than likely not recover in time.

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With Neinaber then admitting that they were very happy with the performances of Willemse at flyhalf so far this season, he seems to be the front runner for the No 10 jersey ahead of Goosen.

“There is a big debate about the flyhalf situation. We’ve got Handre and Elton and then, if you want to put them in a pecking order, Damian Willemse stepped up nicely in the Rugby Championship,” explained Nienaber.

“In the last game, we used Frans Steyn. In the alignment camps, we’ve had Goosen with us before the series against Wales as he was recovering from injury and he is getting a go now in the URC.

“So if you look at that, it’s probably six flyhalves I have mentioned or guys who can cover us at flyhalf. There are also a couple of good performances from flyhalves in the URC and we are certainly keeping an eye on that.

Nienaber continued: “ So we are comfortable with Damian and he has proven himself in the last couple of Test matches.

“It will be nice to have Johan there to see how he falls into our program and how he delivers and then there will be some of the younger guys pushing hard for spots.”

Not end of the road

For Jantjies, who was sent home from Argentina during the Rugby Championship due to reports about an affair with the team dietician and not paying a bill at a guesthouse during the week leading up to the match against the All Blacks in Mbombela, it is not the end of the road for his Bok career.

“There was that personal reporting on him while we were on tour just before a really important Test match, and we mutually agreed with Elton that we would allow him to go back home and handle these personal matters,” explained Erasmus.

“Elton is a Japanese player, he’s not contracted to SA Rugby, and he’s not a PONI (player of national interest).

“If he’s not involved during a match week, then he’s free to take the weekend off in his personal capacity. We can’t be held responsible if a guy isn’t paying his water and electricity bill. What he does in his personal capacity is his business.

Erasmus added: “He wasn’t part of the match squad (for the All Blacks game), so he broke no team protocols. The only reason we’re not selecting him is that he’s not playing any rugby currently.

“We can’t compare him to fellow flyhalves for now, but a fit Elton Jantjies is four years younger than (Ireland captain) Jonny Sexton and if he plays good rugby, the door will always be open for him.”

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