JOHANNESBURG - After last playing Currie Cup rugby five years ago, Elton Jantjies is loving wearing the Golden Lions jersey again – and he’s got news for the Sharks; he desperately wants to win this weekend’s semi-final in Durban and feature in another final. In fact, said a relaxed Jantjies on Tuesday, he wants his team to win the trophy – something he last experienced in 2011.
“The fact I didn’t play in (and win) the 2015 final against Western Province is definitely a motivating factor going into this weekend’s game,” said Jantjies. “I’m not going to shy away from it; 2011 was special (when I was part of a winning Currie Cup team), and I feel the same type of vibe now.”
Jantjies has missed out on the Currie Cup for the past five seasons. His last action before running out against the Pumas in a final Currie Cup round-robin game last Saturday came in 2013 after which he joined the NTT Shining Arcs in Japan. It meant he missed the 2015 final triumph over Western Province.
But he did taste victory in the 2011 final, when John Mitchell was the coach, Joshua Strauss the captain and some of his team-mates included Jaco Taute, Wikus van Heerden, Franco van der Merwe, Pat Cilliers, CJ van der Linde and on the bench, among others, Warren Whiteley and Butch James.
“It’s so nice playing Currie Cup rugby again,” said the 28-year-old flyhalf. “It’s exciting for me, and it’s definitely given me some extra energy at this time of the season. I’ve always cherished the Currie Cup and I feel it should be given more attention in South African rugby.”
Having made a return to the competition last week in Nelspruit, Jantjies is likely to be joined by fellow Bok stars Whiteley, Aphiwe Dyantyi and Franco Mostert in the Lions team that will travel to Durban, with only hooker Malcolm Marx a doubt for the outing.
And while the Sharks won comfortably against the Lions in the round-robin stages and will be the favourites on Saturday, Jantjies said the Lions would look to just play their normal game.
“The intensity levels will definitely be up on Saturday; it’s playoff rugby. The secret will be to stay patient and use one’s opportunities. The fundamentals don’t change, whether it’s knockout rugby or a league game, Currie Cup or Super Rugby ... you need to know when to run, pass and kick.
"You need to win your set-pieces and make sure you’re competitive at the breakdown. But, having said that our value system will stay the same ... the Lions always want to score tries and play a nice brand of rugby and play for each other. We’re not going to move away from that.”
Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen will name his lineup on Thursday afternoon.