It has made various headlines today that Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies has been sent home to South Africa, along with team dietician Zeenat Simjee after the pair seemingly enjoyed one another's company a little too much in the Lowveld ahead of the test against the All Blacks.
Official word from the Springboks is rather coy and understandably so at this stage, but with this and Elton's escapades on an Emirates flight earlier this year, one can hardly say he is upholding the standards and ethos of the team, which we saw Canan Moodie reciting very recently.
"The Springbok management are aware of reports regarding Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies and team dietician Zeenat Simjee between the training camp in Sabie and the Test match against New Zealand in Mbombela earlier this year. No team protocols were breached, but the individuals are returning to South Africa to attend to these personal reports and to eliminate any distractions to the team’s preparations for the Test against Argentina."
Elton should have been marked for a step up as the premier flyhalf for the Bokke for the remainder of the year, after injury to 1st choice Handre Pollard. As the only other specialist 10 remaining in the side, and after Nienaber and Co's stubborn insistence that he is their man, he was surely primed to start now that he has overcome his hand injury suffered in the first test against the Wallabies.
Elton has been curtailed to essentially carrying tackle bags for most of his time with the current Bok side, seeing very little game time. 2022 saw him start and deliver a shocker in the opener against Wales, before a cameo appearance from the bench against the Aussies. It is no wonder he had time on his hands for extra curricular activities. Touted as the 'ultimate team man' by any member of the Bok squad who was asked, few would have expected this to extend outside the boundaries of the training field.
What the Springboks and all their fans now face however is the rude awakening that the World Champions have no flyhalves. Nienaber foolishly overlooked a sublime Manie Libbok this year in favor of Pollard and Jantjies, losing valuable time for development of the URC's top points scorer. In a single week the Boks lost both their 10's and Damian Willemse was asked to step up to the role. Step up he did, but his kicking was not up to the standards of an international 10, nor should it have been as he is not a 10.
Elton was supposed to only miss a single test (2nd Wallabies clash) and then be available for the rest of the Rugby Championship and Northern Hemisphere tour. Instead we will now likely see Damian at 10 this week, but what then? Where is our depth? Flyhalf has been the most neglected position for development and in all honesty with the way selections have gone here, I wouldn't be surprised if he hear Faf is set to provide back up there.
The answer is simple. Get on the phone with Manie, tell him to pack for a trip to Durban and do everything humanly possible to bring him up to speed ahead of clashes with Ireland and France in November. Yes injuries happen and players do stupid things, but poor succession planning will always be a coaches fault, now with his hands tied, hopefully Jacques will finally provide opportunity to the player who should have been there from the start.