CAPE TOWN – Elton Jantjies says he’s ready to be the Springboks’ general in the absence of Handre Pollard.
During a virtual press conference yesterday, Jantjies – who will run out for the Springbok Green team during the Springbok Showdown at Newlands on Saturday – said that while Pollard’s injury lay-off is a big blow for the national side, he’s looking forward to the opportunity.
Earlier this month it was confirmed that Pollard would face an extended period on the sidelines after rupturing his knee ligaments while playing for Montpellier.
If the Boks go to Australia for the Rugby Championship, they will be without Pollard, who would also have raked together minimal game time before the much-anticipated series against the British & Irish Lions next year.
“I’ve got a good relationship with the coach and we are well-aligned,” Jantjies said.
“For me it’s tough to lose a guy like Handre, we worked together quite well during the World Cup and he started playing consistent rugby and we helped each other out.
“For a squad to lose someone like that is a big loss for the team, but it’s collective, it’s never about the individual, it’s about the team, and if it’s my opportunity to fill that role, I’m ready, and I’m ready to make sure the team follows my lead.”
Earlier in the week, SA Rugby’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus praised Jantjies – who is the next most experienced flyhalf available to the Springboks (37 caps) – for the role he played in their World Cup success, while he also confirmed that the Lions skipper will assume the No 1 flyhalf role with Pollard out for the near future.
In the virtual media engagement earlier this week, Erasmus said: “In terms of a team man and someone who served the side, Elton really stood out at the World Cup in the way he helped us prepare. And when he’s playing with structure and a good forward foundation, he’s unbelievable. He was pushing hard for Handre’s spot.
“So, Elton is there, and then there’s Damian Wilemse, who has gone to a World Cup and who can do a job at 10 and 15. Even Frans Steyn, he can slot in if needed. Then Curwin Bosch, if he gets a good run, is someone to watch.”
Erasmus also explained that due to logistical and player welfare concerns, they aren’t sure whether South Africa will partake in the Rugby Championship, and asked which side of the fence the players are on when it comes to their possible participation, Jantjies said: “Whether we go or not is up to the coach to decide.
“This is a big week for us in terms of the old faces and the new faces getting aligned and understanding what it takes to become a Springbok.
“Our main focus is Super Rugby and the Currie Cup, but if our participation is confirmed, I’m sure the coaches will be prepared for that and we will be prepared as well.”