Springbok scrumhalf sensation Herschel Jantjies believes the Stormers will have a secret weapon when they play at home in next year’s Super Rugby competition: Newlands Stadium, of course.
The 2020 competition will be the last for the Stormers with Newlands as their home ground. From 2021 the Western Province Rugby Union (Stormers) will have a new home at the Cape Town Stadium.
Jantjies, a superstar in his debut season for his franchise earlier this year, said next year’s campaign would be “special”.
“I think the boys will play with a lot of emotion in the home games,” said the scrumhalf, who also won a gold medal as a member of the victorious Rugby World Cup winning Springbok team just under a month ago.
“Newlands will always be special and in our hearts. I’m fortunate that I was able to have one season playing there and next year I’ll get one more. In a way it’s going to be sad farewell for all of us, but there will also be the new and exciting challenge of us going to Cape Town Stadium.”
Exactly a year ago not too many people outside of the Cape’s rugby structures knew who Jantjies was, but today he is known all across the world, such was his impact in the No 9 jersey for the Boks in 2019. The expectations on him to produce a repeat showing in 2020 will now be massive, but the 23-year-old said he wasn’t too concerned about those sorts of thing.
“I’m not at all worried (about second season syndrome), he said. “I’m just going to hit the reset button and start again. But I want to hit the ground running and play consistently good rugby again.
“One of the reasons why I turned down an offer to play for the Barbarians this month is that I wanted time off. I didn’t want to come back from playing for them and have to go straight into a pre-season programme without me having had any rest.
“I want to be on top of my game when the season starts next year. I certainly don’t want to be battling for form and then trying too hard.”
Having risen quickly to the top of the pile and become a national hero, Jantjies has already achieved so much, including winning a World Cup title so early in his career. How then does he think he’ll stay motivated in the years ahead of him.
“That’s easy ... I’m not the kind of guy to ever feel satisfied or complete as a player. I want to strive to be like a Richie McCaw or a Beast (Mtawarira) and play lots of Tests, consistently well, for my country. I want to get 100 caps; not just 10, so I’ll keep grinding so I can play for the Boks for a long time.”
Jantjies admitted though he still can’t quite get over the fact he was part of the World Cup-winning team. “It’s something that will stay with me forever. All those memories ... this is not something that will go away overnight. We really all worked so hard for it.
“Sure, it still feels 100 percent surreal. Not too many players can say they played in a World Cup, let alone won it. It’s very special.”
Looking ahead to the Stormers campaign of 2020, Jantjies said there was a lot to be excited about.
“We’ve got a new coach and while guys like Damian (De Allende) and Eben (Etzebeth) have left us, we’ve still got a few Boks in the mix, like Kitsie (Steven Kitshoff), Bongi (Mbonambi), Pieter-Steph (Du Toit). And they all have a big role to play with us having so many youngsters in the team next year.
"I’m looking forward to it; it’s going to be fun.”
The 2020 rugby year kicks off with the now annual Superhero Sunday double-header, next year to be held at the FNB Stadium in Joburg on January 19.
At 1pm the Sharks and Stormers will lock horns, while at 3.15pm the Lions and Bulls will clash in their colourful Marvel-inspired jerseys.