Cape Town – Elton Jantjies says his off-field issues are “already behind me”, and that it is the right time to make a fresh start at his new team Agen after arriving at the French club this week.
It has been a tumultuous year on and off the field for the 32-year-old flyhalf, who has had to deal with injuries and then the drama around his alleged affair with Bok team dietitian Zeenat Simjee – which she has denied.
He has also faced a lawsuit from his agent James Adams for a breach of contract involving hundreds of thousands of rand, while there was an incident on an aeroplane earlier in the year where he was arrested on a charge of malicious damage to airline property.
Jantjies spent some time at a facility in Cape Town recently to get away from it all and treat his insomnia, but has been hard at work with his fitness over the last few weeks ahead of his move to France – having been let go by Japanese club Red Hurricanes Osaka, which saw him spend time with his wife Iva Ristic and their three children in Turkey.
The lack of game-time played a part in Jantjies not going on tour with the Boks to Europe in November, but now he wants to get his career on track again at Agen.
Flanked by Agen president Jean-Francois Fonteneau at a press conference, Jantjies was asked whether the move north would help him to put all those issues in the past, and he declared: “It’s already behind me…
“To be honest, I had a few offers during this time because I was out of contract, but we spoke a few years ago and that wasn’t the right time to come. But I believe this is the right time to come, and I am just thankful for Agen for giving me the opportunity to play my rugby here, and to still develop and keep on learning, to become a better rugby player.
“I played against Agen when I was at Pau when they were in the Top 14. They are now in Pro D2, but they are still a quality team. The Top 14 is not easy – it’s a tough competition. I am a guy who likes to achieve certain things, and hopefully we can achieve something good this season, and build on that for next year.”
Agen are in fifth position on the Pro D2 log – a level below the Top 14 – having lost four out of their last five games.
They will want to gain promotion back to the main league next season, but of course, Jantjies also wants to prove that he is good enough to be selected for the Springbok World Cup squad.
“Hopefully I can bring my X-factor, my experience, my discipline and the way I do things to the team, and hopefully the team can benefit. Definitely my experience, and hopefully I can invest in the younger players as well – to develop the other flyhalves, and make sure we get the results every weekend,” the left-footed kicker said.
“I always pride myself on being as fit as possible, and to stay ready. I knew I’m going through a phase where I am busy doing some contact stuff, so I didn’t know when I was going to start playing.
“I agreed to not go on the Springbok tour because I wanted to spend some time with my family, but physically, I feel good. Just a few weeks of rugby training, and then I will be properly (fit). But I want to play, so it means a few days!
“It is definitely part of my goal, to achieve something special with Agen – this is my main focus at the moment.
“I am not focusing on the Springboks at the moment. For me, it is all about the club and for me to settle in as quickly as possible, to play quality rugby and make sure I make a difference in the team.
“And then if I perform for Agen, I will probably be in the Springbok squad next year – it’s still a while to go.”