Jan Serfontein capped off a fine series with a standout performance in the Springboks’ 35-12 win over France at Ellis Park on Saturday, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
The 24-year-old came into 2017 with considerable doubts whether he was ever going to deliver on the immense potential he displayed as a youngster. Those doubts seemed vindicated during an indifferent start to the Super Rugby season for the battling Bulls.
However, during this June series for the Boks, Serfontein has come of age.
In many respects, some might still suggest his decision to accept an overseas offer could work in his favour as it should enable the dynamic midfielder to further advance his skills in a different environment to that of the Bulls, where he appears to have stagnated.
It should also be kept in mind that while Saturday’s Test saw him make his 29th appearance for the Boks – just one shy of the new 30-cap eligibility ruling for overseas-based players – he will still be available for selection during the Rugby Championship.
As a result, Serfontein will remain in selection contention for the indefinite future, and he has undoubtedly made that No 12 jersey his own during the June series, which has effectively seen him keep veteran Frans Steyn firmly rooted on the bench.
Last weekend, Serfontein starred in the second-Test victory as he completed as many as 15 tackles, and he was once again omnipresent on defence in Johannesburg.
This time around, the centre completed nine tackles, while it was his turnover and then follow-up tackle that effectively led to the opening try scored by Jesse Kriel.
Serfontein also had an unusual hand in the Springboks’ second try, when he rose well at the lineout to collect the ball before shifting possession to Eben Etzebeth, who went over to score.
Overall, Serfontein also made four runs, completed 15 running metres and executed one clean break to duly walk away with the Man of the Match award.
And while this was far from the most complete all-round performance from the Boks, with several basic errors and some poor set-piece play blighting proceedings, particularly in the first half, their defence was solid once again.
In the opening stanza, the Boks made 50 out of 59 tackles for an 85% success percentage, while they completed the match with 87 tackles successfully completed out of 109 (80%).
Stand-in captain Eben Etzebeth and his lock partner Franco Mostert were again immense on defence, with the duo completing 25 tackles between them.
Yet it was Serfontein who stood just as tall among the backs, to cap off a memorable sequence of performances from the talented youngster.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images