Home Sport The Jantjies to Jantjies connection must click against Scotland

The Jantjies to Jantjies connection must click against Scotland

South Africa’s Herschel Jantjies and Elton Jantjies during the training session at Arcs Urayasu Park.

In case the thought ever crossed your mind – no, Herschel Jantjies and Elton Jantjies are not related, and yet the relationship between the Springbok halfback pairing will be immensely important against Scotland.

JOHANNESBURG – In case the thought ever crossed your mind – no, Herschel Jantjies and Elton Jantjies are not related, and yet the relationship between the halfback pairing will be immensely important on Saturday when they take the field against Scotland (3pm SA time kick-off).

“Not that I know of,” Herschel said with a chuckle and a smile yesterday at the team announcement. “We do joke about it often, but we are not family at all.”

Familial relationships aside, the Jantjies’ connection on the field this weekend will offer another opportunity for both players to taste much needed game-time, further develop their experience and silence criticism from a quarter of the supporter base who believe that neither are up to scratch.

This is especially true of Elton, who has had to deal with vocal opposition to his donning the Green and Gold in spite of solid showings in recent months and admirable service for club and country over the past decade.

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That tide of opinion is turning in his favour, however, especially after his performance against New Zealand in the Rugby Championship last month.

Meanwhile, the faith Bok coach Jacques Nienaber has shown in Herschel should do wonders for the 25-year-old’s confidence.

The scrummie was not at his best against Wales this past weekend, missing the mark with his kicks and service at the breakdown.

He was taken off the field in the 54th minute and replaced by Cobus Reinach, and the general consensus was that the move paid immediate dividends for the Boks.

“Last week, it was really tough with the conditions,” Herschel admitted. “Hopefully this week, it will be a little bit better.”

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The 31-year-old Elton Jantjies made a strong impact in the second half of the last Rugby Championship victory over the All Blacks in Australia, and also helped to close out the 23-18 win over Wales in Cardiff at the weekend.

It will be the first time since 2019 that Herschel and Elton will start together, but the scrumhalf was self-assured that the renewed pairing in the 9-10 channel would be able to guide the Boks to the required result.

Said Herschel: “Whether I am playing with Polly (Handré Pollard) at flyhalf or playing with Ella (Elton) at flyhalf, it doesn’t matter who is at 10 or who I am playing with.

“I know that the guy is aligned with what we want to achieve as a team …

“Elton and my relations are good, on and off the field. Obviously, we haven’t played together for a very long time. I think the last time we started a game together was in the (2019) World Cup against Namibia. It changes nothing.

“Our minds are focused on executing the plan this weekend and playing a good game. That helps with the communication skills and in the build-up to the game, regarding where we can help each other and complement one other.”

It is widely expected that the duo will face a tough assignment against opposite numbers Ali Price and Finn Russell. Scottish flyhalf Russell, especially, has been earmarked as the figurehead of Gregor Townsend’s team.

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He engineered Scotland’s narrow victory over Australia last weekend, and was a dangerous variable in the third Test of the British & Irish Lions tour earlier this year.

“They are good players and they are players that were a part of the Lions tour,” said Herschel.

“They bring a specific skill-set to the game. A guy like Russell has a big bag of tricks, but to concentrate too much on one guy won’t help either myself or Elton. The most important thing for us is to understand each other on the field and to execute the plan.

“If an opportunity reveals itself, it will be up to us to spot it and take it. Ultimately, the team that does that and grabs it will be the team that will get the best result on the day.”

Springbok starting XV: Willie le Roux, Jesse Kriel, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Elton Jantjies, Herschel Jantjies; Duane Vermeulen, Kwagga Smith, Siya Kolisi (capt), Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth, Trevor Nyakane, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nché; Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Lood de Jager, Jasper Wiese, Cobus Reinach, Handré Pollard, Frans Steyn.

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