Jantjies to trust his technique

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Elton Jantjies lines up a kick at goal
  • Post published:August 16, 2017

Elton Jantjies says he will continue to trust his natural instincts and goal-kicking technique in the Rugby Championship, writes CRAIG LEWIS in Port Elizabeth.

During a disastrous 2016 Rugby Championship campaign for the Boks, which yielded just two wins, there were understandable questions raised over the consistency of Jantjies’ goal-kicking and general play.

From the kicking tee, Jantjies averaged just 72%, and by the latter stages of the Rugby Championship, the Boks reverted to the more conservative option of starting Morné Steyn in the final two Tests.

To Jantjies’ credit, though, he went back to work on this aspect of his game, with his goal-kicking proving to be much-improved in the 2017 Super Rugby season – his success rate hovered just below 80% – while he missed only three shots at goal throughout the June series against France.

Now, as the unequivocal first-choice Bok flyhalf, Jantjies will be determined to carry that accuracy over into the Rugby Championship, with the Springboks set to kick off their campaign against Argentina this Saturday.

As it is, the Pumas have a deadeye goal-kicker in Nicolás Sánchez, who was successful with 20 of 23 attempts at goal in last year’s Rugby Championship, giving him an impressive success rate of 87%.

Jantjies is sure to know the value of his role this Saturday, but when chatting to the media from the team’s hotel this week, the laid-back flyhalf said it was important not to overthink it.

‘Goal-kicking for me is just about trusting my body and my technique, it’s something I’ve put a lot of work into. It’s about repeating the same routines over and over again, and believing in myself. It has really become an instinctive thing.’

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Beneficially, Jantjies is set to line up in an unchanged backline from the June series against France, and he highlighted the importance of his decision-making when facing a dangerous Pumas side.

‘There’s obviously a few things I have been working on in training, to make sure I make the right decisions at the right time, whether that be in the attacking or defensive zone. I’ve challenged myself to improve my decision-making, and then obviously to create some space for my outside backs, that’s something I aspire to.’

During last year’s home Test against Argentina in Nelspruit, the Boks produced an error-riddled display and had to rely on a late Warren Whiteley try to salvage a victory. A week later, they suffered a first-ever defeat to the Pumas in Argentina.

While there is a different feel to the Boks of 2017, Jantjies said they had learned that the key was to start well to get on top of the unpredictable Pumas early on.

‘They are a team that builds confidence if they get going quickly, so the first 20 minutes will be key for us. We have to execute our plan really well. They bring something different to the party, you often don’t know what to expect from them, whether it be a quick throw-in or quick tap, so we have to be alert to that.’

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Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix