Juan de Jongh says his focus has completely shifted to his new role at the Stormers after a 'beneficial' spell with the Blitzboks, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
On Tuesday, De Jongh was named as the Stormers' co-captain for the season, and will be responsible for all on-field decision-making.
As a senior member in a relatively youthful Stormers squad, De Jongh will also have an important role to play as one of the team’s backline generals.
Stormers coach Robbie Fleck recently said he felt De Jongh would come back a better player after featuring for the Blitzboks in the first few legs of this season's World Rugby Sevens Series, with the 27-year-old having impressed during his time with the sevens side. However, he will now be available for the entire conference stage of the Super Rugby season.
‘I really feel that all the things I’ve learned over the last four months with the Blitzboks can only have been beneficial for me, but it’s just important to now make the change back to a Super Rugby focus,’ De Jongh told SARugbymag.co.za. ‘I’m really excited for the season ahead, we’ve got some new players and a new coach at the Stormers, and I’m just looking forward to getting going again … For now, I’ve just switched off totally from sevens, and all I’m focusing on is the blue and white hoops, and ensuring I give my all for the Stormers.’
The ambitious 27-year-old last played for the Springboks in 2012, and while De Jongh acknowledged that making a return to the national side remained one of his goals, he reiterated that performing for the Stormers was his first priority.
‘I just want to keep contributing to the Stormers’ cause and I know I need to bring my A game. I do have other goals, it’s always been an honour to wear the green and gold, but the only way I can do that again is by having a cracker of a season with the Stormers. I have to ensure that I’m playing at my best if I want to achieve those goals, and so I’m really excited for this next journey.’
In the absence of injured inside centre Damian de Allende, it will be interesting to see if De Jongh reprises a role in the No 12 jersey for at least some part of this season.
‘Most of my experience in my career has been at 13, but I have played at 12 as well,’ he commented. ‘It’s not really about what jersey number I have on my back, it’s just about adjusting to what’s required and making an impact wherever I play.’
The Stormers are set to kick off their Super Rugby campaign against the Bulls on 27 February.
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