Elton Jantjies believes that his roommate and halfback partner Herschel Jantjies has taken his game to a new level over the past few months. JON CARDINELLI in Nagoya reports.
Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus stated from the outset that he would rotate his squad on a weekly basis over the course of the World Cup. With that in mind, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see a very different side starting against Namibia in Toyota City on Saturday.
Faf de Klerk, Handre Pollard and Damian de Allende may be rested this week. Herschel Jantjies, Elton Jantjies and Frans Steyn are the favourites to line up at No 9, 10 and 12 respectively.
The lightning-quick scrumhalf has made the journey from the Western Province bench to the Bok World Cup squad in less than 12 months. He enjoyed a dream debut against Australia in Johannesburg earlier this year, and then scored the try which earned the Boks’ a morale-boosting draw in Wellington.
‘He’s a special player who embraces all the expectations,’ said Elton Jantjies, who is one of the more senior men in the 31-man squad.
‘Herschel’s very ambitious. Whenever there’s an opportunity he uses it.
‘He’s growing every time he goes on to the park. It’s good to see that he gets negative when he makes mistakes. It shows that he wants to grow and stop those mistakes.’
The opportunity to play alongside a former World Cup winner in Steyn – who hasn’t started a Test since 2012 – is one that excites the Bok flyhalf.
‘Franna has always got a joke for you, but he’s able to flip that switch when there’s a job to be done.
‘It’s good to have someone who’s so versatile in the group. He’s got a lot of experience. He’s an ou toppie, but he’s still got a lot of youth inside him and can bring a lot of energy to the side.’
All the players who chatted to the media in Nagoya on Tuesday stressed the need for a significant improvement across the board following the misfiring performance against the All Blacks last week.
‘The kicking game, the defence, the attack, the aerial skills … they’re areas in which we want to get eight or nine out of 10,’ said Jantjies. ‘We’ve improved a great deal in those departments over the past two years. We’re only getting about six out of 10 in those areas at the moment, though, so we need to improve.
‘It wasn’t all negative in the game against the All Blacks,’ he added. ‘There were a lot of swings in that game.
‘They won the ball back in the air twice and got into space and scored tries. We found ourselves in the same situation but just didn’t finish.’
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) September 24, 2019
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images