Jantjies was the target of a light-hearted prank at the scene of the official team photograph on Friday morning. Unaware of the protocols, the uncapped scrumhalf listened to teammates who insisted that he take a seat next to Etzebeth in the front row.
The penny dropped when Beast Mtawarira arrived and asked Jantjies why he was sitting in a seat reserved for senior players. The entire squad, as well as coach Rassie Erasmus, erupted in laughter as Jantjies beat a sheepish retreat to the second row.
Later, at the captain’s press conference at Monte Casino, Etzebeth spoke about Jantjies’ abilities as well as his personality off the field.
When SARugbymag.co.za asked Etzebeth to explain what had occurred earlier, the giant lock broke out into another laugh.
‘We always play that little prank. We tell the new guys to sit in front at the team photo.
‘He came to slot in next to me, in Beast’s seat. I’m sure he learned his lesson today.’
Backline coach Mzwandile Stick believes Jantjies will go on to become one of the great South African No 9s. At this stage, the 23-year-old looks set to travel to the World Cup as one of Erasmus’ three scrumhalf options.
It’s hard to believe, as Etzebeth suggested, how far Jantjies has come over the space of 12 months.
‘I asked him where he was at this time last year. He was in the Currie Cup mix, sometimes starting and sometimes on the bench.
‘I said, “Did you think in a year’s time you would be starting for the Springboks and be in line for a World Cup place?” He said no.
‘I watched him grow over the course of this year’s Stormers’ campaign. At first I didn’t know who he was or what he could do. He proved himself. He’s a good rugby player. He’s a great scrumhalf.’
Etzebeth also had a word for the other man making his starting debut.
‘Rynardt Elstadt is tough. I’m not sure I need to say anything more.’
When prompted to do so, Etzebeth spoke about Elstadt’s unlikely journey to the national team.
The versatile forward left the Stormers in 2017 to pursue a career with Toulouse. The French side won the Top 14 earlier this year, with Elstadt playing a big role in the title success.
On the back of those performances, Elstadt earned a call-up to the Bok squad and will start his first Test against the Wallabies this Saturday.
‘He went to France, without any Springbok experience, and then played his way into contention from overseas. How tough must a guy be, and how hard must he have worked to get that chance?
‘I’ve never played against him, but I’ve heard from those who have that he’s a very tough man,’ Etzebeth added.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images