Elton may go off deep end
Elton Jantjies may well find himself jumping off the deep end by making his debut for the Stormers in a high pressure Super Rugby derby against the Bulls at Loftus.
There are few events in South African rugby to rival the north/south showdown between the Bulls and the team from the Cape, but that might well be Jantjies’ first taste of competitive rugby in the Stormers jersey. In fact, it almost certainly will be, for Stormers coach Allister Coetzee gave a strong hint on Wednesday that Jantjies, who made his Springbok debut while playing for the Lions last year, will be wearing the No 10 against the Bulls.
“We still have enough training sessions ahead of us for Elton to start the first game. He will be returning to us on Sunday, 10 February, and he will get straight into action then,” said Coetzee.
Jantjies has been away on compassionate leave following the shock death of his father late last month. He missed the opening warm-up fixture against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last weekend and will also miss the second and final preparation game against the Boland Cavaliers at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Kurt Coleman has been selected to play against Boland, and he also started last weekend. He was the man of the match against the Cheetahs, but it still seems the smart money should be on Coetzee selecting Jantjies even though he won’t have been on the field in a match this year.
“I know I said a few weeks ago that I wanted all the players to see action before they could be considered for the match against the Bulls, but then I also said that there might be exceptions,” said the coach.
“It is too early to tell what Elton’s mindset will be when he returns. We will assess it next week once we see how he settles back in training. But we are planning to have an opposed session next Wednesday night that will be refereed and will assimilate match situations and that will be one of a few opportunities for Elton to get to know the systems.
“In the meantime it is good to have Kurt playing another game. He did well last week and it would be good to know that there is another player who can do the job at flyhalf.”
Of course, Peter Grant will also be in the mix when he returns from Japan, but at this stage it is still uncertain when Grant’s Japanese commitments will end. When Grant returns it will also give Coetzee an extra option at inside centre, a position that Grant played at junior level and also on a few occasions early in his Currie Cup career.