The name Herschelle has always been associated with flair and excitement in Cape Town sporting circles.
Perhaps a little drama too sometimes, but that just added to the legend who was – and still is – a folk hero with the people of the Mother City.
I am, of course, referring to Herschelle Gibbs, the former national Proteas star who was also once a rugby prodigy – who had the boot of a Naas Botha, the vision of an Andrew Mehrtens and X-factor of a Sonny Bill Williams.
Well, there’s a new Herschel in town, and the little Stormers scrumhalf from Stellenbosch certainly wormed his way into the hearts of the Newlands faithful with a match-winning try deep into extra time of Saturday’s Super Rugby derby against the Lions.
The significance of Jantjies’ try cannot be undervalued.
The Stormers were under huge pressure in the week leading up to the clash against the Lions – a team they had not beaten for four years – and nothing less than a ‘W’ would have been able to blow away the dark clouds gathering over coach Robbie Fleck and his men.
For his reward, it is Jantjies who needs to run out in the starting No 9 jersey this week against the Sharks in Durban, and that proposed selection is not based solely on his heroic dash for the line, but his overall game play.
Jantjies plays at a high tempo and brought a sense of urgency to the Stormers attack when he replaced Jano Vermaak in the latter stages of the second half.
In fact, Jantjies boasts many of the qualities that Vermaak possessed in his prime – quick to the breakdown point, snappy service, incisive breaks around the fringes and bundles of energy.
Unfortunately, it seems that “Father Time” has caught with the 34-year-old former Springbok No 9. Vermaak remains a valuable asset to the Stormers, but it is now Jantjies’ time to shine.
The former University of the Western Cape halfback will be up against a formidable opponent in Sharks captain Louis Schreuder, should Fleck opt for the exuberance of the 22-year-old.
Schreuder knows the Stormers’ systems well, having spent the formative years of his Super Rugby career at Newlands, and the Sharks captain would love nothing more than to upstage the youngster.
The only potential obstacle is Durban’s fickle weather. After last Saturday’s hot and humid afternoon when the Sharks hosted the Blues, the forecast for this week is potential downpours.
This could reduce the match to a kicking contest between the two halfbacks, with the wingers giving chase. This is where Schreuder definitely has the edge, with this aspect of Jantjies’ game still in the development phase.
He will need to learn some time, though, and there is no better classroom than out in the heat of battle.@ZaahierAdams