Herschel Jantjies deserves to join the Springboks at the World Cup in Japan later this year. At the start of this season, coach Rassie Erasmus issued a clear message to all players: Perform in Super Rugby and you’ll be in contention for World Cup selection.
Jantjies, a product of Paul Roos Gimnasium, has caught the eye in his first season as a regular Super Rugby starter, having made his Stormers debut at the end of the 2018 campaign prior to a stellar Currie Cup season. An injury to Jano Vermaak in round one against the Bulls in Pretoria promoted Jantjies into the Stormers’ starting XV, a milestone he marked by scoring the winning try against the Lions.
The 23-year-old has continued to shine in his role with consistent performances in a side that has blown hot and cold all season.
Jantjies came through the Western Province junior ranks, won the 2017 Supersport Challenge trophy and was instrumental in UWC’s successful 2018 Varsity Shield campaign. He also made a one-off appearance for the Scarlets in the Pro14 when they toured South Africa in 2017.
In 2018 there was a lot of debate around the lack of quality scrumhalves in South Africa and Erasmus opted to go with Sale Sharks halfback, Faf de Klerk. The Bulls duo of Ivan van Zyl and Embrose Papier served as backup options.
This season, Jantjies has outplayed both Van Zyl and Papier. If Erasmus remains true to his word, Jantjies deserves a place in the Bok squad.
The signs suggest that he is on the radar – the Stormers halfback has been invited to a Bok planning camp. Ideally, he will get a run in the shortened Rugby Championship and in the friendly against Argentina.
This will provide Jantjies with an opportunity to prove that he is ready for Test rugby, and capable of being an important addition to the Bok squad in a World Cup year, like Nehe Milner-Skudder was for the All Blacks in 2015.
Even if Jantjies doesn’t make the cut, the experience gained from measuring himself against Test players will be of great value in 2020 when the Boks will be spoilt for choice with talented young scrumhalves who ply their trade in South Africa building towards 2023.
Jantjies certainly has the talent to become a great player, he’s got a solid pass, provides quick service and doesn’t shy away from his defensive duties.
There are aspects he still needs to work on, such as his kicking game, but one thing he possesses is the ability to see space and exploit it as we have seen with his darting snipes and breaks throughout the course of the season.
The Springboks have been searching for someone in SA to emerge as a dynamic challenger to De Klerk and, with a bit of work and proper coaching, they may have found the answer in Herschel Jantjies.
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