Jantjes back for Jozi jaunt

Conrad Jantjes has passed a fitness test and will start against his old side at Ellis Park.

The WP fullback missed last week’s 30-25 win over Griquas due to a knock to the head, but has been cleared to face the Lions, a team he represented until the 2007 season.

Coach Gary Gold has also included captain Luke Watson and Bolla Conradie in the starting line-up. The pair were a worry after the Griquas match, with Watson complaining of a sore knee and ribs and Conradie carrying an elbow niggle. Both will be subject to a final fitness test on Thursday but the coach is fully confident they will feature.

One player who hasn’t recovered from the game is Tonderai Chavhanga, who damaged his hamstring in Kimberley. This injury sees Breyton Paulse earn his first start in 2007.

Another man who will face his old mates this Saturday is Schalk Brits, who has been rotated with Tiaan Liebenberg for the starting hooker position.

“It is a small factor when choosing between two talented players,” said Gold. “Tiaan had the opportunity to play his old union last week and by putting his hand up he has created a situation that makes it hard for the coaches, but one we want at this union.

“I’ve spoken to both of the players and because there is a very small gap between them we have decided to work on a rotation system. They have different strengths, but it’s great to have that kind of competition within the team.”

Gold said both Brits and Jantjes will undoubtedly relish the chance to face their former team-mates, just as Liebenberg did in Kimberley.

“These guys do enjoy the opportunity to go out there and play against their mates.”

Jantjes missed last year’s Currie Cup due to injury and has no experience of playing under Loffie Eloff as a head coach. However, he expects plenty of running from the Johannesburg outfit.

“I’m sure Loffie will have told them to have a go as they have plenty of good attacking players,” he said. “Experience may play its part though, as they have a lot of young guys who haven’t played much at this level.”

Gold, however, confirmed WP will not be taking anything for granted and the Lions attack will be closely marked.

“Our defence wasn’t up to scratch against Griquas, especially out wide. We have been working very hard on that this week.”

WP – 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Breyton Paulse, 13 Corne Uys, 12 Peter Grant, 11 Sireli Naqelevuki, 10 Naas Olivier, 9 Bolla Conradie, 8 Robbie Diack, 7 Justin Melck, 6 Luke Watson (c), 5 Ross Skeate, 4 Gerrie Britz, 3 Eddie Andrews, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Subs: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Selborne Boome, 19 Pieter Louw, 20 Paul Delport, 21 De Wet Barry, 22 Gio Aplon.

By Jon Cardinelli