Elton Jantjies' Irish move blocked
Irish interest in Elton Jantjies may have come to nought‚ but it is clear the Lions‚ and to a lesser degree SA Rugby‚ will have to ‘show him the money’ in their on-going contract renewal negotiations.
Jantjies‚ whose contract with the Lions expires at the end of the current Super Rugby campaign‚ was targeted by Ulster but their hopes have been dashed by the Irish Rugby Football Union who have final say on player recruitment.
Ulster are seeking a replacement for Paddy Jackson‚ who had his contract revoked after being cleared of rape‚ but Jantjies is not deemed a suitable replacement by the IRFU as he is not eligible to play for Ireland.
Jantjies’ prospects of moving to Belfast were dashed by the IRFU’s regulation 9.4 which states: “All clubs to sign and play one overseas player per season‚ provided that he has taken up and remains in residence and has been properly registered prior to the 1st October.”
That‚ however‚ doesn’t mean it is the end of the saga.
An exchange‚ although said in jest‚ between Jantjies and Lions chief executive Rudolf Straeuli after the player fronted the media following his 100th Super Rugby game last Saturday‚ gave a glimpse of what the Lions may need to do to hold onto their Springbok flyhalf.
Straeuli waved the player over saying. “Elton‚ they asked me what we are giving you for your 100th game. I said a fresh contract.”
Without out skipping a beat Jantjies said: “if you add a nought”.
The Lions are in the process of concluding new deals for their marquee players and Jantjies features on the list of players they are desperate to retain.
The continuity that came with their player retention policy over the last four‚ five seasons has been the cornerstone in their emergence as a Super Rugby force and the suits at Ellis Park are desperate to continue the trend.
SA Rugby are meanwhile in the throes of thrashing out a new contracting model for professional players in the country‚ but neither they‚ nor franchises have sufficient finances to keep the top talent in the country.
One exasperated provincial chief said player agents are making the retention of the country’s top talent more difficult.
Jantjies‚ who played in his 100th Super Rugby match against the Brumbies last Saturday‚ was thanked for his contribution to the franchise by Straeuli after the match.
“On behalf of the Lions Rugby Company‚ this is a special achievement Elton. We are very proud of you.
"There are not a lot of players who have done 100 caps that has played with your style‚ while being an ambassador.
"Thank you very much‚ we really appreciate it. That comes from sticking together.”