South Africa's Jantjies in race to be fit for Ireland series

CAPE TOWN, May 23 (Reuters) - South Africa flyhalf Elton Jantjies faces a race against time to be fit for the home series against Ireland next month after it was confirmed he would have surgery on an injured hand this week.

Jantjies has been in eye-catching form for the Lions in Super Rugby and was seen as a banker for the number 10 jersey in new coach Allister Coetzee's Springbok team in the three-match series against the Irish starting in Cape Town on June 11.

But the Lions confirmed in a statement on Monday that he will have an operation that is expected to keep him sidelined for three-four weeks.

Coetzee is likely to introduce more black players into the his team to meet the South African government's transformation targets and Jantjies has deserved a call-up after steering the Lions to the top of the South African Conference in Super Rugby.

He looks certain to miss the first test against Ireland, but could be back for the matches in Johannesburg (June 18) and Port Elizabeth (June 25) if his recovery goes to plan. (Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Ed Osmond)

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