Jantjies: I can’t just pack my bags and leave

Elton Jantjies has explained his reasoning behind remaining committed to the Lions and his approach to captaincy, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

During the lockdown period, the Lions squad has undergone a considerable restructuring, with several players coming and going.

In many ways, when a local competition is able to resume – expected to be in September – the Lions will be starting afresh as they search to rediscover consistency in play and a winning formula that was largely absent at the start of this year’s regular Vodacom Super Rugby season.

What’s likely to remain unchanged, though, is the key role of Jantjies.

Once part of the team’s youthful ranks, the 30-year-old is now a senior member of the squad, and expected to continue in the captaincy role he took on at the start of 2020.

Chatting to SA Rugby magazine, Jantjies opened up about the role of captaincy, with the experienced flyhalf inclined to lead through his actions rather than any inclination to be particularly outspoken.

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‘The opportunity to captain is one that excites me, but I don’t think Elton as an individual will change at all,’ he says. ‘I don’t see it as more pressure, I’ve still got my own standards to live up to as a player, regardless if I’m the captain, and so hopefully I can lead through actions.

‘I’d love to be able to share some of my knowledge and things I’ve learned over the past few years with some of the younger players.’

During the lockdown, Jantjies was one of the players linked to interest from French clubs, but the World Cup-winning Springbok explained why he refused to be tempted by overseas options.

‘I’m quite a goal-driven person, and my goals are set out at the Lions, where I’m also the captain,’ he adds. ‘I can’t just pack up my bags and leave, that’s not the way I do things or who I am. There has to be a plan. No 1 for me is playing for South Africa, and doing whatever possible to put myself in line to keep achieving that.

‘I think that meant I stayed with the Lions, and I also want to leave a good legacy at the union. Of course money comes into the equation, but that’s not that No 1 for me. As long as my family buys into my decisions and goals, and as long as I have the right people around me, then I’m happy.’

Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen hailed Jantjies as a ‘student of the game’.

‘Elton is immense for us, he’s a true lion in heart and action. What we like about Elton is that he’s goal-oriented and very specific in his detail. When he starts talking, it’s big into details, roles and responsibilities.

‘He leads those types of discussions, and although he’s maybe not the kind of captain who will be all about psyching you up, but he’s definitely the kind of leader who will tell you where you’re supposed to be and what you should be doing. He leads through action, but when he does talk, it’s very specific and outcome-based, and people listen.’

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Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

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Craig Lewis