Elton Jantjies’ fitness battle for the Bok flyhalf berth

This should be Elton Jantjies’ season. The Lions flyhalf has been in sublime form for his franchise in Super Rugby and is considered to be the favourite for the Springbok number 10 jersey. He has worn the green and gold just twice, as reserve to Johan Goosen in the Tri-Nation Tests against Australia and New Zealand in 2012, playing just 51 minutes of Test rugby. He never persuaded Heyneke Meyer that he should be first choice flyhalf. If it wasn’t Goosen in his way, it was Morné Steyn or Handré Pollard or Pat Lambie. Pollard is injured for the season, Goosen and Steyn are plying their trade in France, while Lambie has just made a return from injury for the Sharks. Most rugby critics feel that Jantjies is the form player and deserves to start a Test. But now Jantjies is injured and the first Test against Ireland is in three weeks’ time. Can he recover in time? – David O’Sullivan

Elton Jantjies
Elton Jantjies. Twitter pic.

CAPE TOWN, May 23 (Reuters) – South Africa flyhalf Elton Jantjies faces a race against time to be fit for the home series against Ireland next month after it was confirmed he would have surgery on an injured hand this week.

Jantjies has been in eye-catching form for the Lions in Super Rugby and was seen as a banker for the number 10 jersey in new coach Allister Coetzee’s Springbok team in the three-match series against the Irish starting in Cape Town on June 11.

But the Lions confirmed in a statement on Monday that he will have an operation that is expected to keep him sidelined for three-four weeks.

Coetzee is likely to introduce more black players into the his team to meet the South African government’s transformation targets and Jantjies has deserved a call-up after steering the Lions to the top of the South African Conference in Super Rugby.

He looks certain to miss the first Test against Ireland, but could be back for the matches in Johannesburg (June 18) and Port Elizabeth (June 25) if his recovery goes to plan.

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