Johannesburg – New Springbok coach Allister Coetzee wants flyhalf Elton Jantjies to be the ‘boss’ when they face Ireland Saturday in a must-win Johannesburg Test.
The Springboks were shocked 26-20 last weekend at the start of the three-Test international series despite having a one-man advantage for 57 minutes after Irish forward CJ Stander was red-carded.
Another South African defeat, at Ellis Park, would give Ireland overall success, reduce the final Test in Port Elizabeth on June 25 to a ‘dead rubber’, and be a disastrous start to the four-year contract of Coetzee.
The inclusion of 26-year-old Jantjies, the outstanding South African playmaker in Super Rugby this season, is one of two injury enforced changes to the Cape Town starting line-up.
He replaces Pat Lambie, whose mid-air collision with South Africa-born Stander led to the red-card and a one-Test ban after a marathon two-day disciplinary hearing.
Lock Lood de Jager, who has by his own admission not being having a great Super Rugby season with strugglers the Cheetahs, suffered a calf injury and Pieter-Steph du Toit takes his place.
Although the Lions’ Jantjies was first capped by the Springboks in 2012, this will be only his fourth appearance and his first as a starter
Renowned as a flyhalf who loves to run and pass, Coetzee is demanding more from him on his home provincial ground.
The coach who succeeded Heyneke Meyer two months ago and made his Test debut in Cape Town, wants flair, intelligent tactical kicking and game management from Jantjies.
“I want Elton to be the boss, to take control of the game and manage it well,” he explained. “I expect him to get us to play in the right areas of the field.
“I want Elton to be clever, to make good decisions, to run when that is the right option, and to kick when necessary,” added Coetzee.
The coach confessed he is concerned about the expectations surrounding Jantjies, whose adventurous style contrasts sharply with a more cautious, kick-orientated approach of many South African flyhalves.
“There will be a view that because Elton is there we must have attacking flair at all costs and at all times. I know he can run, but I also know he can manage a game.”
Although the triumph last weekend was the first by Ireland in eight Tests in South Africa, New Zealand-born coach Joe Schmidt has made five personnel changes to the starting team with one enforced.
Banned Stander is replaced by Rhys Ruddock and in other changes among the forwards, prop Tadhg Furlong and lock Quinn Roux come in for Mike Ross and Jordi Murphy.
There is also a positional switch with first Test lock Iain Henderson moving to loose forward to accommodate Roux, another South Africa-born member of the Irish squad.
In the backline, centre Luke Marshall and winger Keith Earls give way for Stuart Olding and Craig Gilroy respectively.
Schmidt listed altitude – Johannesburg is 1 750 metres (5,750 feet) above sea level – and the need for fresh legs at the end of a long season as some of the reasons for the changes.
“I am hoping that the players who are coming in will provide pleasant surprises just as the team did in Cape Town last weekend,” said the coach.
“It is a huge challenge for the team this Saturday to match what the players put into the game last weekend.”
15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Damian de Allende, 11
Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6
Francois Louw, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2
Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Julian Redelinghuys,
19 Franco Mostert, 20 Warren Whiteley, 21 Rudy Paige 22 Morne Steyn, 23 Ruan
15 Jared Payne, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Stuart Olding, 11
Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Rhys
Ruddock, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory
Best (captain), 1 Jack McGrath
Substitutes: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19
Donnacha Ryan, 20 Sean Reidy, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Tiernan