Following Herschel Jantjies’ brilliant debut performance against Australia at Ellis Park, JOHN GOLIATH looks at four other top individual performances by a Springbok scrumhalf in the modern era.
Joost van der Westhuizen vs Wales (Cardiff, 15 December 1996)
The late, great Joost van der Westhuizen was a match-winner. He had an influence on many great Springbok victories during his playing career, including the semi-final and final of the 1995 World Cup on home soil. But as far as a superb individual display is concerned, the 37-20 win over Wales in 1996 was up there with the best. Van der Westhuizen’s scored a brilliant hat-trick, which showcased his unmatched power for a No 9. He was a threat around the rucks and made a couple of try-saving tackles. Van der Westhuizen revolutionised scrumhalf play on that day.
Fourie du Preez vs England (Paris, 15 September 2007)
At the start of 2007, Fourie du Preez didn’t know if he would even be fit to travel with the Springboks to the World Cup in France. By some miracle he managed to regain full fitness to help the Vodacom Bulls lift the Vodacom Super Rugby title before playing a massive role in the Boks’ triumph in the final. Du Preez was hailed as the world’s premier No 9 when he produced a sensational display against England in South Africa’s crucial encounter in the group stage. He controlled the tempo of the game with his educated right boot, while he had a hand in three of the Boks’ tries to sink England 36-0.
Ricky Januarie vs All Blacks (Dunedin, 12 July 2008)
After being crowned world champions the year before, Peter de Villiers’ Springboks fancied their chances of beating the All Blacks in their own backyard. However, they ended up losing the first Test and in the process, lost captain John Smit to injury. They weren’t given much of a chance to become the first South African team to win in Dunedin, but a piece of magic by Januarie guided the team to their first victory in New Zealand in a decade. The combative scrumhalf produced a feisty performance behind a dominant pack. His match-defining moment came with his side trailing by five with four minutes to go. The Hopefield-born No 9 spotted a gap next to the ruck and sprinted 40 metres, before chipping over All Blacks fullback Leon McDonald and collecting to score.
Faf de Klerk vs Ireland (Port Elizabeth, 26 June 2016)
It was all to play for when the Springboks and Ireland met at the Nelson Mandela Stadium for the third and decisive Test in this riveting series. The Boks, under Allister Coetzee, had lost the first match against 14 men at Newlands but then produced an unbelievable last 20 minutes in the second Test at Ellis Park to keep the series alive. De Klerk had enjoyed a reasonable series heading into the decider. He left his best for the decider turning in one of the all-time great displays by a Bok halfback to help the Boks get over the line. The former Lions scrumhalf tackled anything that moved, his service was crisp and he kicked well. But it was the interceptions and defensive interventions, the last one during the last play of the match on his own tryline, that stood out during that important clash.
Photo: Gallo Images