Cape Town – The second Test between the Springboks and Ireland in Johannesburg on Saturday is massive for South Africa.
Coach Allister Coetzee desperately needs a win to get his tenure moving in the right direction, and the Boks need to keep the series alive.
But, results aside, Saturday is also a hugely important day for Elton Jantjies as the Lions pivot prepares for his first start in the Springbok No 10 jersey.
It has been a long time coming.
Jantjies made two substitute appearances off the bench for the Boks back in 2012 – against Australia and New Zealand – but he would have to wait three and a half years before he played Test match rugby again.
That third appearance came last weekend, again off the bench, when he replaced Pat Lambie in the 22nd minute of that woeful 26-20 loss to Ireland.
Jantjies displayed some neat touches in the hour he spent on the park, most noticeably when he set up Lwazi Mvovo with a delightful inside pass, but he struggled to get a firm grip on proceedings.
He will have that chance on Saturday and, if he starts as expected, will look to prove that he belongs in Coetzee’s starting XV.
“Pat Lambie is a fantastic player and it’s disappointing for
him and South Africa,” Ireland skills coach Richie Murphy said on Tuesday.
“Elton has a pretty good short kicking game, he probably
takes a little more risk in how he likes to play the game.
dangerous with ball in hand … I think he poses a threat himself on the line,
maybe a little more than Pat does.”
Morne Steyn, meanwhile, is expected to start on the bench.
“Morne coming in is obviously a classic South African kind
of flyhalf … a really good kicking game, a good organiser, a good passing game,” said Murphy.
“He’ll try and bring others into the game.
“We’ll try and concentrate very much
on ourselves and what we’re trying to do this week and obviously we’ll have
those goes in mind when we’re trying to do that.”
Ireland, meanwhile, will field Paddy Jackson once more.
The 24-year-old, who had massive shoes to fill in replacing the injured Johnny Sexton, slotted 16 points at Newlands and was hugely impressive.
“We were pretty confident that Paddy would do that,” said Murphy.
look at him in the last year, he’s still a young guy still, he’s on an upward
curve. He works very hard on his game and is always trying to learn. He’s an
incredible guy to deal with.”
Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:00 and both sides are expected to name their sides on Thursday.