Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies has dismissed the focus point of his positional battle with Scotland playmaker Finn Russell in Saturday’s Test at Murrayfield.
Jantjies will line up at No 10 in one of two changes to the Springbok backline from the team that faced Wales in Cardiff.
The 31-year-old is likely to be up against Scotland’s own bag-of-tricks Russell in what could be a decisive battle in Saturday’s Test.
Russell helped spark the British & Irish Lions backline in the first half of the third Test against the Springboks back in August.
However, while admitting that Russell did pose a different challenge in that Test, Jantjies said the Springboks will not be singling him out for attention.
“We’ve all seen what he is capable of in the last Test against the British & Irish Lions – I really think he made a difference and challenged us in a different way,” said Jantjies.
“So, yes, we’ve got a little bit of experience playing against him, but for us the focus will be on our own systems, working together as a group and making sure that we stop whatever is thrown at us. We looked at their past matches and last weekend’s game, but also at the way we play and how we can improve, and I believe we’re well prepared for Saturday.”
The Springboks last faced Scotland in 2018, when Jantjies came off the bench to slot a late penalty goal that helped secure a 26-20 victory. Russell also played in that see-saw battle.
“This is a different-looking Scotland team to the one we faced in 2018, although their management is very similar,” said Jantjies.
“They will challenge us differently to three years ago, with a bunch of younger players who will be full of energy, alongside a number of very experienced players, and playing against the world champions will be added motivation for them.
“What will they bring this weekend? We’ll see on Saturday, in the first 10 minutes or 15 minutes, how they want to play against us, and we’ll have to find solutions to that.
“But our focus will be on ourselves, as a group, and to look to improve in certain things we’ve identified, because there is always room for improvement and that is the biggest thing about this group – we just want to get better every single week.”
It will be the first time that Jantjies starts a Test since playing against Argentina in the Rugby Championship, but he says he is committed to the team’s cause, instead of staking a claim for himself.
“I know it sounds like a cliche, but I’ve always said it – it’s not about me as an individual, but rather about the team,” he said.
“Yes, there is a responsibility on me to lead the boys in terms of certain aspects of our game and execute and align in what we want to achieve and what we’ve been working on as a group.
“We have to focus on playing against Scotland this week and can’t look at the past, because this week will pose a number of different challenges.”
The kick-off for Saturday’s Test is at 3pm SA time.
"We learned a lot from the tour."@finn_russell is hoping experience of facing the @Springboks with @LionsOfficial this summer can aid the team ahead of Saturday's meeting at @BTMurrayfield. pic.twitter.com/QzLYQTX8XZ
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) November 10, 2021
Thrown into the mix early on, how impressive was @finn_russell yesterday 🦁
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) August 8, 2021