In-form Sale Sharks centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg says playing in the Premiership has required key adjustments to his game, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Janse van Rensburg is particularly well remembered in South African rugby circles for his impact with the Lions over a golden period where the Johannesburg-based franchise reached three Vodacom Super Rugby finals.
The powerful midfielder was finally rewarded with a Test cap at the end of 2016, while he also scored a memorable try against the Barbarians.
After opting to head abroad, Janse van Rensburg self-admittedly struggled to initially settle in at his overseas club, having needed to overcome challenges both on and off the field.
‘I actually had a knee injury when I arrived at Sale, an LCL [lateral collateral ligament] injury,’ he says in an upcoming interview with SA Rugby magazine. ‘Then in my third game back, I fractured my ankle, so I couldn’t play for about three months.
‘Then, in pre-season training, someone tackled me and I did my LCL again, but not as bad, just like a grade-one injury. So I was out for a few weeks and missed a few games. But that was about it. Since then I’ve been healthy and good to go, which has been great.’
The 25-year-old has enjoyed an especially impressive resurgence in the 2019-20 English Premiership season, and again made a strong start since competition resumed, while scoring another typically powerful try against Bath last Sunday.
His re-emergence as a legitimate Bok contender is particularly timely when one considers that there have been questions over depth at inside centre at national level.
Janse van Rensburg says he has lost a lot of weight since joining Sale, with the centre looking leaner but no less powerful.
‘When I had my first Test cap I was still a youngster, and I’d only played one Super Rugby season. But after playing in the Premiership, you gain a bit more experience in different situations, and I think my work rate off the ball has improved while playing overseas.
‘I used to perhaps feel getting the ball and making a few good carries was enough, but I’ve realised how important it is to work defensively and off the ball if you want to perform in the Premiership. So, I just need to keep working hard on things, which is a big focus for me.’
Along with a number of South Africans at the English club, Janse van Rensburg says the energy of World Cup winners such as Faf de Klerk and Lood de Jager has been infectious since rejoining the club from national duty.
‘They’ve spoken very highly of the World Cup squad, Faf and Lood can’t stop talking about the brotherhood and the good energy in the Springbok camp.
‘No matter what may have happened, they say there was always a good feeling in the Bok camp, and that’s something they’ve spoken of bringing into what we are doing at Sale. To go about everything with confidence in our plans and what we’re doing, and to d0 that on our terms.’