JOHANNESBURG – A debut to remember! That’s what young 23-year-old Herschel Jantjies will have for the rest of his life.
Thrown in at the deep end, in what many said was a weakened Springbok team, the Western Province and Stormers man delivered on every front in his first outing in the green and gold against Australia at Ellis Park on Saturday.
In the week leading up to the opening Rugby Championship match of the season, Bok backs coach Mzwandile Stick predicted Jantjies could become one of the great No 9s of South African rugby. He said his performances for the Stormers in Super Rugby were at a consistently high level, that he was clinical in terms of his passing and basic skills and that he had a dangerous “snipe” that often caught out defences.
Well, Jantjies put all of those traits on display on Saturday. He scored two tries, the second after a darting run on the blindside, and also played a big role in Lood de Jager’s try.
Bok boss Rassie Erasmus said he didn’t want to praise Jantjies too much, but ultimately conceded he couldn’t do anything else.
“I don’t want to praise a guy too much, but I can’t do anything other than praise him,” said Erasmus.
“This guy was playing off the bench in the Currie Cup a year ago, then he played Super Rugby this season and now he’s a Test player. His service, his box kicks, the technical things, his grit on defence and the way he attacked he was awesome. Hopefully he’ll grow from this experience. It was a great start for him; he can be very proud.”