Nienaber: 'Elton has done nothing wrong'
SPOTLIGHT: Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber has explained his decision to pick Morne Steyn as the replacement flyhalf for Saturday’s third Test against the British and Irish Lions on Saturday.
Elton Jantjies provided cover for Handre Pollard in the first two Tests but now finds himself out of the matchday squad for the series decider.
“It was a toss-up between Morne and Elton. Morne played for us in the South Africa ‘A’ game and I thought he controlled the game quite well,” said Nienaber.
“Elton did excellently for us in the first Test match when he came on for Handre when Handre started cramping at the backend of that Test.
“In our discussion when we went through this selection process. It is a long season and we are going straight into the Rugby Championship against Argentina next week, then we go to Australasia and then the end-of-year tour.
“It is pretty much keeping everybody up to date, giving them game time and trying to spread the load.
“We could have put Elton in there. It is almost like for like. Both were excellent in the outings that they had against the British and Irish Lions.”
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‘It’s do or die’
Nienaber said Steyn’s experience in big matches counted in his favour.
Should Steyn take the field it would officially see him participate in back-to-back Lions Series tournaments.
He famously kicked the penalty goal that sealed the series victory in 2009.
“One of the big things that went in Morne’s favour is the fact that he has been in big games like this,” Nienaber added.
“He understands the pressure. If you take the World Cup Final and if you take this game, the pressure is going to be similar. It’s do or die.
“Morne has been there before and he has done it before in a big game in 2009.
“I’m not saying that Elton wouldn’t have the big-match temperament. I’ve seen him do that before in big games as well. Thinking back to 2018 in New Zealand when we had our first victory there, he came on in the last 20-30 minutes and with him and Handre at 10 and 12, they had an unbelievable partnership.
“It’s a long season and we have to make sure that everybody stays sharp and match fit.
“Elton has done nothing wrong.
“If you go look at his actions in that first Test against the British and Irish Lions, each and every action and he was phenomenal.
“It is just a decision that we made. Obviously, we feel that is the best way to go for this Test match.”