VIDEO: Rassie will make Elton 'great again'
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP SPOTLIGHT: The mere mention of the name Elton Thomas Jantjies will elicit capricious emotional outbursts.
The pundits either love the 28-year-old or hate 26-times capped Springbok.
His is seen as an unusable dreck that does not belong near the Springbok team, or simply a misunderstood genius.
Bok coach Rassie Erasmus tends to lean towards the latter.
Having never worked with Jantjies before the June internationals, he said Jantjies was one of the best players to work with in terms of analysing the game.
“He will always try to get it right, doing extra work and do it again,” the coach said.
Speaking less than two weeks out from the start of the Rugby Championship, Erasmus admitted he will upset some people with his stance.
“Some people will hate what I am saying,” Erasmus said at the team’s training base in Stellenbosch, adding: “To take a team into a Super Rugby Final three years in a row, you must be close to doing something really great.
“In the end, when you don’t make it [win Finals] the people will judge you on that.”
Erasmus pointed to All Black flyhalf Beauden Barrett, the two-times World Rugby Player of the Year, who played in a team that shipped 30 points to the Crusaders in the semifinal the week before the Lions lost to the Crusaders by 19 points.
Erasmus admitted that some players have the ability to just step up in tight games.
However, Jantjies remains highly rated by the Bok coach.
“If Handre Pollard goes down [injured] now, there is no doubt in my mind Elton will be our second choice and we will run with him.”
The coach said it is the responsibility of the coaching staff to “help” Jantjies overcome whatever issues he does have that creates the impression that he does not have Big Game Temperament.
The Bok also suggested that Jantjies’ frequent off-season trips to Japan’s Top League in recent years and then back to Super Rugby may have contributed to his struggles with consistency and form.
“I have no doubt about his talent,” Erasmus said, adding: “We must find a way to get him to perform at the highest level and that is our job as coaches to help him do that.”
The Boks’ Rugby Championship campaign starts against Argentina in Durban (Saturday, August 18), followed by the rematch with Los Pumas in Mendoza (Saturday, August 25), Australia in Brisbane (Saturday, September 8), New Zealand in Wellington (Saturday, September 15), Australia in Port Elizabeth (Saturday, September 29) and New Zealand (Saturday, October 6).
By Jan de Koning