'Awesome' Jantjies gives Boks real depth
REACTION: Less than a year ago, South Africa’s scrumhalf stocks looked rather adulterated.
However, the arrival of rookie Herschel Jantjies and the resurgent form of recalled Springbok Cobus Reinach has changed the No.9 picture dramatically.
Last year the Bulls pair of Embrose Papier and Ivan van Zyl were behind first-choice scrumhalf Francois de Klerk – albeit by some distance – in the Bok pecking order.
That changed dramatically at the weekend.
Bok coach Rassie Erasmus described Jantjies as “awesome” – after the 23-year-old scrumhalf scored two tries in a 35-17 triumph over Australia in their opening Rugby Championship clash in Johannesburg at the weekend.
Jantjies had a huge impact on the game at Ellis Park – with the highlight being a brilliant 62nd-minute try, as he sniped down the blindside – which gave the home team a decisive 28-10 lead.
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“You don’t want to praise the guy too much, but you can’t do anything different than praise him for the way he played [against Australia],” Erasmus told a post-match media briefing.
“Herschel showed that he is definitely comfortable at this level and one can have nothing other than praise for him.
“To come straight from Super Rugby and play like that,” the coach said, adding: “His service – his box-kicks, his technique, his grit on defence and of course his marvellous attacking ability.
“It was awesome. It was a great start to his Springbok career.
“I think if you take it from where he was last year – Currie Cup, [then] Super Rugby and then to Test match rugby. Hopefully, he can grow from here.
“Certainly [his] confidence is high now.”
Erasmus added that Jantjies will need to put in consistent performances in the Bok jersey, with the All Blacks and Argentina waiting in store over the next two weeks.
“The opposition will be tougher, as the World Cup lies ahead.
“However, it was a great start for him he can be very proud of the performance,” the coach added.
South Africa now have incredible depth at scrumhalf.
In the squad that will face the All Blacks and Los Pumas in the next two rounds are Francois de Klerk (first choice last year and a star in the Sale Sharks team in England), Jantjies and Cobus Reinach (the Northampton Saints scrumhalf that was named in the Premiership Dream Team this year).
“Things change in a week, very quickly – injury-wise and form-wise,” the Bok coach said.
“As we sit here, we’re really happy.
“Last year, at stages, we were really happy with the way the other No.9s performed – if you take Embrose [Papier] against Scotland and Ivan [van Zyl] against England.
“We had to try a few things to see who’s the right guys, who fit in, who can adapt to the way we want to play and can execute the different departments of the game – not just on attack and defence.
“There are so many different facets of the game and we had to try a few things to get where we are now in terms of squad depth.
“I think we can say – at least at No.9 – who is available and who can do what. That’s a good sign.
“I think if you look at Embrose [Papier], Ivan [van Zyl] and Louis [Schreuder] – all the guys we’ve tried – we know now exactly who we have.
“Now it’s a matter of consolidating and making sure that when we hit the World Cup, all of those guys are fit and in form.”
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