Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies has opened up on his role within the team after being named to start in Saturday’s Rugby Championship opener against Argentina.
The 31-year-old had limited game time during the recently concluded British & Irish Lions series, coming off the bench in the second half of the first Test.
Jantjies was then left out of the match-day 23 for the second and third Tests entirely as the Springboks opted for a six-two split on the bench, with Morne Steyn coming on in the third Test to kick the series-winning penalty.
He was, however, praised by head coach Jacques Nienaber for his amount of behind-the-scenes analysis and work on the Lions players.
Given that his Springbok career has largely been in the shadow of Handre Pollard, Jantjies has had to field questions about his role within the squad in the past.
He was again questioned about that during Tuesday’s team announcement media conference, and responded that his focus is now more on the team than his own ambitions.
“I’ve had this question for the last few years,”Jantjies said.
“Like I always say, for me, it’s all about the team, especially at this stage in my career. I’ve said it many times, when you’re young, you’re very [individualistic].
“But as soon as you get more experience and become a little older, you start becoming more focused towards the team and you become the kind of person that wants to get to know the players’ personal lives and what they like or don’t, so that, whenever you get on the park, you have something in common.
“You get to understand how the guys love to play. For example, I know what Sbu [Nkosi] likes and on Saturday, I want to go out there and give him that.
“And I want to take that responsibility to make sure the team tries to get the results.”
Jantjies, who recently signed a deal to join the Red Hurricanes in Japan, will earn his 40th Test cap on Saturday.
He is set to partner Cobus Reinach in one of several changes to the Springbok starting lineup that also features Damian Willemse, Aphelele Fassi and Frans Steyn.
“It’s always special every single time you get the opportunity to wear the green and gold – it’s an opportunity you should never take for granted,” said Jantjies.
“You try and stay as consistent as possible through your performances on and off the field to be able to be in this environment.”
Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix