GARETH DUNCAN says the Stormers need to make a move to sign Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies on loan for next year’s Super Rugby.
In 2011, the Stormers struggled with a flyhalf injury crisis. It got so bad that head coach Allister Coetzee reeled in Earl Rose (who’s currently playing club rugby in Cape Town’s Premier League B) to provide pivot cover.
This year, a loose forward injury crisis affected the Cape franchise’s campaign. To ease their woes, Coetzee signed Canadian international flank Jebb Sinclair, promoted his WP Vodacom Cup flanks and shifted specialist hooker Deon Fourie to No 8.
While we’re just over the halfway stage of the Currie Cup, the 2013 Super Rugby campaign is just over four months away. And the Stormers could struggle with another flyhalf crisis if they don’t make a plan soon.
WP first-choice flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis will make a move to the Kings after the domestic scene. Back-ups Gary van Aswegen and Kurt Coleman are both injured, while Burton Francis’s frustrations after a third transfer failure (following the Bulls and Lions) has seen him seeking game time at SWD in the First Division.
Peter Grant will be back, but as experienced this year, he is likely to miss the opening rounds of Super Rugby because of his Japanese club commitments with the Kobe Steelers.
So there’s certainly a headache for the Stormers management. In fact, if Catrakilis gets crocked, fullback Joe Pietersen or scrumhalf Louis Schreuder will spearhead Province for the rest of the campaign.
So who should Coetzee bring in to solve this potential flyhalf crisis?
The Lions have been relegated. While there are plans for the Johannesburg franchise to compete in an alternative international tournament, most of their players have confirmed that they want to compete in the top tournaments, like Super Rugby.
The Lions have committed most of their troops until October 2013, which president Kevin de Klerk has stressed will prevent a mass player exodus. However, Jantjies has a clause in his contract that will allow him to represent another franchise next year.
The Stormers need to lure the Springbok flyhalf to Cape Town.
When I interviewed Stormers and WP backline coach Robbie Fleck on Thursday, he spoke about how the team is building a stronger attacking game during the Currie Cup to mould a more effective game plan for Super Rugby.
There have been improvements as WP have emerged as the best attacking and defensive outfit of the Currie Cup, according to statistics.
When I queried Fleck about the flyhalf predicament he said: ‘The flyhalf crisis is here and we need to sort it out. I don’t want to comment on the contracting side of things, because I’m not involved with that. But yes, we could use a guy like Elton Jantjies. He will fit into our game plan .’
It’s rumoured that Jantjies has a R2.5 million asking price. It’s steep, but worth it as the 22-year-old has the attacking and kicking attributes the Stormers need to ensure their attacking improvements extend into 2013.
A stint in Cape Town will also be good for the player.
At the moment, he’s one of the fringe players in the Springbok squad. He’s set to make his Test debut off the bench against the Wallabies on Saturday, and he’ll need to be playing Super Rugby to prove to Heyneke Meyer he deserves his spot in his team.
Like Lions utility back Jaco Taute told me earlier this month: ‘Super Rugby allows you to play against some of the best players in the world. That’s the only way you can measure yourself.’ Taute, who’s also set to make his Test debut in Pretoria, is expected to make a move to another franchise.
The Bulls have Morne Steyn, the Sharks have Pat Lambie, the Cheetahs have Johan Goosen and the Kings will have Catrakilis. The Stormers need Jantjies.