Elton Jantjies (captain) of the Lions and Siya Kolisi (captain) of the Stormers during the SuperFan Saturday match between Emirates Lions and DHL Stormers at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on September 26, 2020 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)
- Elton Jantjies is not focusing on the Springbok jersey when he comes up against Damian Willemse again this weekend.
- Both men, who’ll play in the Springbok Showdown, will be keen to atone for unspectacular performances at Loftus.
- Jantjies hails the influence of the Lions’ bolstered senior group.
Elton Jantjies has downplayed his battle with Damian Willemse at this weekend’s Springbok Showdown, reiterating that he’s not interested in focusing on duels.
The Lions skipper and flyhalf was steady if unspectacular behind a pack that was stuck in reverse against a powerful and pedigreed Stormers tight eight.
That allowed the 22-year-old Willemse a platform to dictate from, which he largely failed to do.
The Stormers pivot’s kicking was decent and he threw a sharp, brilliantly timed flat pass for centre Dan du Plessis’ try but he still seems uncomfortable and rushed in his decision-making.
Both men should be keen to be more influential in Saturday’s exhibition at Newlands, with Jantjies featuring in the Green squad and Willemse in the Gold group.
But Jantjies, rather emphatically, doesn’t want to see it as a shootout for the Springbok flyhalf jersey in the absence of Handre Pollard.
“I’ve always maintained that the game isn’t about individuals,” he said.
“Damian had a good game, particularly at the beginning. He’s kicking was good. But to me, rugby really is about a team. Where can we improve in our systems? It has relevance on the Springbok Showdown too.
“That’s just the way I am. I’m always learning and I tend to focus on myself and the team. It’s about what you can contribute.”
While Jantjies will undoubtedly channel all his energy for this weekend’s proceedings, he’s also eager to get his franchise back on track after a poor Super Rugby showing and a false start at Loftus last week.
Assisting him greatly in that regard is a senior group of players and leaders bolstered by the returns of Jaco Kriel and Ruan Dreyer as well as the acquisition of Burger Odendaal.
“There’s great leadership here. Burger was captain at the Bulls, Jaco’s pedigree is well known and Ruan brings a lot of experience back from England,” said Jantjies.
“He can feed the boys some knowledge on the northern hemisphere. That’s the way we’re going anyway. They’ve really slotted in well. They are guys that are comfortable speaking. That’s a real positive for us.”