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Jantjies will hold on to Lions No 12 jersey

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Only scrumhalf Ross Cronjé of the backs made more passes than Jantjies against the Chiefs

Elton Jantjies of the Lions during 2018 Super Rugby match between Lions and Stomers at the Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg on 07 April 2018. Picture: ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

The Lions brains trust have decided to continue with their experiment of playing Elton Jantjies at inside centre.

The regular No 10, who has played almost all his rugby in the flyhalf position, ran out as a late change in the No 12 jumper against the Chiefs in Hamilton last weekend and enjoyed a fruitful outing.

Gianni Lombard played at flyhalf, but sadly the rookie hurt his knee in that game and has returned home. Jantjies will, this weekend, have Lions youngster, Shaun Reynolds, on his inside.

Picking Jantjies at No 12 is an interesting choice by the Lions, who have regular inside centre Franco Naudé on tour and on the bench this weekend, while Harold Vorster stayed at home after not making the tour squad for Australasia.

But, Jantjies showed last week he is more than capable of wearing the No 12 on his back. In the Lions’ style of rugby, Jantjies was really a second flyhalf, inter-changing with Lombard and he is likely to do the same with Reynolds this week.

Only scrumhalf Ross Cronjé of the backs made more passes than Jantjies against the Chiefs.

Jantjies also handled the goal-kicking, something he did exceptionally well. He is likely to again play a crucial part in this weekend’s encounter at AMI Stadium.

Guiding Reynolds on his inside will also be one of his tasks on Friday, this being the flyhalf’s first appearance in Super Rugby this year.

And besides Reynolds, the Lions will also have a new scrumhalf this week, with Nic Groom again coming in for Ross Cronjé, while further out in the backs, Ruan Combrinck gets a chance to show what he can do at fullback. Regular No 1 Andries Coetzee, one of the team’s standout players this season, will not feature at all this week.

In the forwards, the coaching team now led by Ivan van Rooyen, have opted to stick with the same group of players that started in Hamilton, except for hooker Robbie Coetzee, who’ll get a start in place of Malcolm Marx.

The Springbok No 2 has taken time off from the squad to return home to rest, according to the nationally contracted players’ game time protocols.

On the bench, Jan-Henning Campher comes in to cover Coetzee, while fellow rookies Nathan McBeth, Franco Naude and Tyrone Green also get chances to test themselves against the Crusaders.