Stormers coach John Dobson says scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies has looked revitalised following his return to the team from compassionate leave. DYLAN JACK reports.
Jantjies missed last weekend’s bonus-point victory over Griquas in Kimberley after he was allowed to return to his family in Kylemore following the death of his grandfather.
The 24-year-old Springbok received the news in the buildup to the Stormers’ Super Rugby Unlocked match against the Pumas in Nelspruit two-and-a-half weeks ago.
‘The news came when we were up in Nelspruit for the Pumas game,’ Dobson told the media on Thursday. ‘He was visibly gone. In retrospect, he probably shouldn’t have even started that game.
‘That was just after Chasing the Sun, when they had filmed the whole family and the community of Kylemore. He came to me afterwards and I could see that he was just ashen after the Pumas game. I sent him home, he didn’t actually ask, to be fair.’
Dobson said that Jantjies, who has not started the domestic season in his best form, has returned to the training ground in high spirits and that could be a massive boost for the Stormers ahead of their clash with the Cheetahs at Newlands on Saturday.
‘He has come back this week full of light, joy and spring,’ Dobson said.
‘By his own admission, I don’t think it was his best form before it. So we can’t put it all down to that. There were elements of his game that weren’t fizzing after lockdown. I have a funny feeling that he is going to be much lighter and better now.’
As a further positive for the Stormers, Paul de Wet provided more than a capable backup for Jantjies in Kimberley, while Godlen Masimla is also awaiting an opportunity to start.
‘We have got three scrumhalves, who to my mind, are identical, in that they are all instinctive players, they are all very fast and they defend the same way. They all bring the same sort of energy,’ Dobson said.
‘The challenge is to manage the expectations of all three. We actually had a thought about starting Godlen this week, but then Herschel had the compassionate week and to knock him out for two weeks would have been too much. It is also a bit unfair on Godlen not to get the opportunity. It is a management process with those three.
‘What’s nice for us is that – and I have had the same conversation with Herschel – at the start of the season we would have said that there was clear daylight, we were unsure about who our next scrumhalves were. Now it is nice that these two are pushing Herschel so hard. We are going to rotate, mix and match.’