JOHANNESBURG – Rohan Janse van Rensburg is adamant – he wants to be in the Springbok midfield this season. Whether it’s at inside centre or at 13, it makes no difference he simply wants to play Test rugby, measure himself against the best in the world and be the best player he can be.
“I want to play for South Africa that’s my ultimate goal for the year,” said the 23-year-old who has featured in just one Test for the Boks, against Wales at the end of 2016.
Many observers feel Janse van Rensburg should have more caps to his name but Bok boss Allister Coetzee has preferred other centres like Jan Serfontein, Damian de Allende, Francois Venter and Jesse Kriel in the last two seasons while a knee injury picked up early last year didn’t help the Lions centre’s Bok ambitions.
But after a successful two-month stint in England with Sale Sharks in December and January, Janse van Rensburg is keen to force whoever is in charge of the Boks this year to pick him.
“I’ve been back in South Africa for a week and am so excited to get going again,” said the powerfully-built centre this week.
“I’m so thankful for the opportunity afforded me to play in England for a while.
“It was a tough 2017 for me there was the injury and a few personal setbacks, and I needed something to take my mind off things, and Sale Sharks provided that for me.
“I was able to go there and just focus on my rugby.
“I got all the cobwebs in my head cleared up and I’m now so focused on Super Rugby again.
“First I want to try help the Lions win the competition and then I want to get back in the Boks set-up.”
Janse van Rensburg was snapped up by Sale in mid-November after recommendations by his former Lions mates Faf de Klerk and Joshua Strauss.
He played eight matches for the Sharks and scored three tries, winning the praises of the fans and the club bosses.
Sale are currently seventh in the 12-team standings, having won six of their 13 matches in the 2017/18 Premiership season.
“It was an awesome experience,” said Janse van Rensburg.
“I felt a bit tired in the first three weeks and it was tough getting used to the weather and all the rain, and the new guys, but as the weeks rolled by things got better and I felt a lot more comfortable.
“It was a nice challenge, playing on wet, heavy fields.
“The Premiership is so different to Super Rugby, it’s really very physical, but I enjoyed the experience.”
Janse van Rensburg, who stayed with pal De Klerk in the middle on Manchester for the eight weeks, enjoyed a sensational breakout season in 2016, scoring 10 tries in Super Rugby, and getting himself picked for the Boks squad, but he never really got a look-in last year.
But at 1.85m tall and weighing 110kg he’s a man who’ll certainly be in the sights of whoever takes charge of the Boks in 2018.
Of course, Janse van Rensburg first has to get into the Lions team and that won’t be as easy as one, two, three. This year, as in the past, he’ll be competing with Harold Vorster, Lionel Mapoe and a fit-again Howard Mnisi for the No 12 and 13 jerseys - all players who’ll have aspirations of becoming Boks for the first time or again, in the case of Mapoe.