JOHANNESBURG – Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies will encourage his teammates and possibly even the coaching staff not to change a thing about the team’s style of play during their four-Test tour of Europe this month.
Jantjies, who has established himself as the Boks’ number one flyhalf over the last year, will join up with the squad tomorrow in Dublin ahead of next Saturday’s opener against Ireland. The other Tests are against France, Italy and Wales.
The Boks will look to improve on last year’s European tour when they failed to win in four outings, and kick on from this year’s improved showing which has seen them beat France (three times in June) and Argentina (twice) and draw twice with Australia. They have only lost to New Zealand, twice.
Last time out, four weeks ago, they were edged by a point by the All Blacks at Newlands, and Jantjies wants the team to continue playing an expansive ball-in-hand game seen in the Rugby Championship, rather than going all conservative because of European conditions.
“It’s a mindset barrier one has to get over, playing in Europe and the different weather conditions and so-called northern hemisphere teams,” he said from Japan, where he plays for the NTT Shining Arcs.
“There’s no need to change anything just because we’re up north. The key will be sticking with what we’ve done up to now and what we’re familiar with. There’s no reason to change our game for four weeks; we need to stick to our processes of what’s worked.”
The Boks will look to kick on from a far more successful 2017 and Jantjies is likely to play a crucial role. He’ll face competition from within the squad on tour from fit-again Handre Pollard and with Curwin Bosch waiting in the wings, but right now he’s the man wearing the No 10.
He said he’s feeling refreshed and rejuvenated after taking some time out of the game recently.
“I took two weeks off after the Newlands game to work on my strength and conditioning and feel good again,” he said.
“My mind and body are in the right condition, so the time off did me very well. I’ve got a big responsibility coming up on tour and am excited again to be able to feature for the Boks.”
Jantjies said the Boks were in a much better space now than a year ago and he’s expecting a much-improved showing.
“Our culture is strong now, we’ve grown the family environment and our work ethic is right. We’re willing to die for the guy next to us on the field, so we’ve come a long way.
“It was a big learning curve for a lot of us a year ago and you can see how we’ve managed to put that learning to use. The mindset is different, the results have been better, so we’ve definitely benefited from those losses and gained experience.”
On a personal level, the Bok No 10 is hoping to continue his growth over the next month and he said he’d picked up a few new “tricks”.
“I want to get better every time I go out there. I want to improve my decision-making and my game management and so have watched some NFL (National Football League) and NRL (National Rugby League) games to see if I can learn anything new.
“I got interested in those codes at the beginning of the year and have continued to watch how they do things, the decisions they make.
“It’s about thinking out the box, continually learning. There’s only so much you can get from rugby, rugby and rugby, so hopefully I’ve added something to my game.”
He will return to his Japanese club after the tour and return to South Africa in late January to join up with the Lions for Super Rugby.
Meanwhile, half of the Bok squad left South Africa yesterday en route to Dublin, via Doha, with the other half leaving today.