Elton Jantjies is set to step into the flyhalf role should the Springboks play in this year’s Rugby Championship, according to national director of rugby Rassie Erasmus.
Erasmus, who will be the commissioner of the Green side when they face the Gold team in a Springbok showdown at Newlands this weekend, says he has full faith in Jantjies’ ability to fill in for injured Bok star Handre Pollard.
“Handre’s knee injury is a big blow, but I don’t think there was anybody more of a team man at the World Cup than Elton, while the others also played big roles,” Erasmus said.
“He helped us win that World Cup while only playing three games and when we went to the 6/2 split he was just unbelievable.”
When he played in a good structure, Erasmus felt Jantjies was an unbelievable player, and he believed they had the depth to cover for the absence of Pollard.
“Then there is Damian Willemse who can cover 10 and 15 and Frans Steyn who can also cover 12 if he is still fit, as well as Curwin Bosch who can only benefit from the Bok environment,” he said.
While he admitted it would be tough to play in the Championship, Erasmus said they were putting all their effort into preparing the Boks for a return to top-flight competition.
“As far as overseas players there has been a push back from the England clubs to release their players,” he said.
“Then we also need players to play at least 500 minutes and five to six games [to ensure they are ready] but if they play the next three weeks they will only have 240 minutes behind them.
“We desperately want to see the Springboks play rugby and it would be
terrible to go through a year without having a Test match.”
Potentially arriving in Australia at the same time as other teams, with a massive squad facing two weeks of quarantine, would pose additional challenges for the Boks.
“We have to take like four looseheads and four hookers for instance, as when a player gets injured and we have to call up someone he will have to go into isolation,” Erasmus said.
“The overseas players also arrive two weeks after us because of their competition, and then in our first match they will be in quarantine, but we are trying hard to see how we can make it happen.”