‘Japan feels like home’ - potential RWC debut for Jantjies

‘Japan feels like home’ - potential RWC debut for Jantjies

Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies is hoping to get his Rugby World Cup campaign underway against Namibia this week.

Elton Jantjies
Steve Haag Sports via Hollywoodbets

The 29-year-old missed out on selection in last weekend’s 23-13 loss to the All Blacks as Springbok director of rugby Rassie Erasmus preferred Frans Steyn as cover off the bench.

It is expected that Erasmus will rotate his squad for this week’s fixture with Namibia and it is likely that Jantjies will pull the strings in the number 10 jersey this coming Saturday at the City of Toyota Stadium.

If that happens, Jantjies will make his debut Rugby World Cup appearance this weekend and the flyhalf was all smiles during an interview at the Springboks hotel in Nagoya on Tuesday.

“I was part of the preparations last week and it was quite exciting. Obviously we didn’t get the result on the weekend but there are a lot of positives we can take out of that and a lot of things we can build on towards Namibia,” Jantjies said on Tuesday morning.

“There are things we want to improve on, like coach said earlier we want to keep improving our systems and keep on growing as a team every single day so in the later stages we are in the right head space.” 

It is fitting that Jantjies will finally play in a World Cup in Japan, a country where he has played rugby during the South African off season for the past five years.

“I’ve been here five years and it has been good. I’m excited for my first World Cup and it is in Japan.”

Jantjies was one of the few players that watched from the sidelines as the Springboks went down to the All Blacks on Saturday. An astute tactical kicker, the flyhalf insisted that the team is now trying to focus on the positive aspects of their performance.

“We are making sure we are improving on the things we are good at and stop looking at the negatives. There were a lot of swings in that game against the All Blacks. We won the territory battle but two aerial opportunities they got the ball back, moved it into space and scored tries. We had the same situations but we didn’t finish and that was the difference.”

A familiar challenge

While the Springboks don’t have a regular fixture against Namibia, many of the players in the opposing team ply their trade in South Africa. Some played in the Supersport Rugby Challenge, while others have done duty in the Currie Cup and Super Rugby competitions.

Springbok backline coach Mzwandile Stick cautioned that their neighbours will be hyped up for the clash this weekend.

“A lot of their players play in South Africa so they know our players very well. We know those guys will have a lot of inside information on our players and it’s an African derby so they’re going to be motivated. We need to make sure we are well prepared.” 

The Springboks will name their side to face Namibia tomorrow in Nagoya.

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