Jantjes at Fullback for Stormers: Is It a Wise Move?
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What could be bigger then a Super Rugby semi-final at home against the most successful franchise in the history of the competition?
Short answer: Nothing (Other then a home final that is).
The rumor running mill around the Cape is that Stormers coach Allister Coetzee is contemplating starting with the experienced Jantjes at fullback for this crunch match. This move would presumably see Gio Aplon being shifted to the wing.
But is this a wise option?
And in such a massive clash against a quality team like the Crusaders, what could be gained from this?
In short, Gio Aplon is arguably the best fullback in South Africa at the moment, and moving him from his preferred position to wing is just a waste. The Stormers will need every bit of flair and slickness in their arsenal if they are to nullify the destructive potency of the Crusaders' back-line.
Aplon brings swift counter-attack opportunities for the Stormers at the back, where if you give him a sniff of a gap or opportunity, he has the potential to rip you to shreds.
Why would you want to deny your team of this?
If he is forced onto the wing he will barely touch the ball, and his prowess on attack will be completely wasted.
Conrad Jantjes has done the job at fullback when called upon this year, but that's all he's done: a job. He's done nothing to stand out and has been found wanting on numerous occasions. At crucial times in big matches, he has made costly errors that has put his team under pressure.
He has been exposed under the high ball, and he has lost a lot of pace (after all, he is 31 years old). His attempts to counter-attack and join the line have quickly been foiled by opposition defenders, who use his lack of pace to hit him quickly.
This has actually lead to the Stormers defense being put under pressure as defenders then have to quickly retreat. If Jantjes starts on Saturday, the Crusaders will certainly look to expose this.
Aplon would surely be a better bet. And is no slouch on defence or under the high ball either. His left boot isn't half bad and having him at fullback won't diminish your team's kicking options either.
The only other reason Coetzee may be contemplating Jantjes is that there is a potential forecast for rain on Saturday. If this is the case, he may be thinking he will need more kicking options, and that the booming boot of Jantjes could come in handy.
I'm not convinced. I think you take away probably your most exciting attacking player, and at the expense of what?
The Stormers back-line looked fairly slick with De Jongh at 12, Fourie at 13, De Villiers at 14 and Aplon at 15 against the Cheetahs. Even Habana looked better in that game. Why change a good thing?
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