It is still a little early for the horrible “I told you so” speeches says Tank Lanning in his eNCA.com column, but was Elton Jantjies ever going to fit into the Stormers’ defensive gameplan?
Sure the Cape side – in the guise of Western Province – played a slightly more attacking brand of rugby in the Currie Cup, which they went on to win, but I think we all know that the Currie Cup and Super Rugby are now at best distant cousins.
And while I believe the Stormers should indeed be taking the Currie Cup lead and playing a more possession based game, given the current coaching and player resources, I think they were always going to revert to type. And while Elton Jantjies has his strengths – his deft passes have lead to a few fantastic tries for the Cape side this year – defense is certainly not one of them.
Throw in an abysmal kicking performance in his first game for his new side (not sure it was that clever to select him given that his father’s death meant he missed both the Stormers’ warm up games) and coach Allister Coetzee has had to defend his selection, sometimes quite tetchily, at every press conference since.
This while Demitri Catrakilis in the Currie Cup final was described as such in the official match report: “Then came two magical Catrakilis moments that secured it for the visitors, with the young pivot producing his finest performance of the season when it mattered most and setting a fitting seal on a WP career that now comes to an end as he prepares for his move to Port Elizabeth. Catrakilis’s tactical kicking played a massive part in the WP win, but the two drop-goals were the ones that ensured that the points difference would be a bridge too far for the Sharks.”
Yes it was in the Currie Cup and not Super Rugby, but it was a final, and there had been enough to suggest that there was more to come from this talented player. Now he is one of the leading lights in a magnificently gutsy start to Super Rugby from the Kings. Throw in the stellar performance from another ex WP flyhalf – Burton Francis – for the Cheetahs against the Stormers on Saturday, and it is no wonder people are questioning the alleged R4million price tag that came with Jantjies.
Western Province produce an enormous amount of talent every year, more than any union could ever hope to hold onto, especially given the lack of patience from young players these days. And it’s about contracting according to the senior team’s current and future player needs, so it’s understandable for a union like WP to lose the odd player.
And I think all fans understand the recruitment of players to fill voids in certain positions, but it is the recruitment of players – at huge cost – to replace home grown talent previously lost to another province, or country, that riles.
Had the Stormers changed both the coaching and player resources to fit a more attacking game plan where Jantjies would have been given free reign (a massive call), then by all means, give it a go, but to ask him to come and fit into a defensive game plan is like forcing a square peg into a round hole.