Jantjies to shine at Newlands?
Elton Jantjies may not have had the best time in Cape Town this year, but the Vodacom Blue Bulls are hoping another Jantjies has better luck.
As the Blue Bulls gathered for their first practice ahead of the Absa Currie Cup season, it was a minor surprise to see that Tony Jantjies, the SA under-20 flyhalf and brother of Springbok Elton, was calling the shots from the number 10 jersey.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Blue Bulls called on him for their opening game against Western Province at Newlands next week.
Currie Cup coach Pine Pienaar has a massive task on his hands, as there are no less than nine under-21 players in his ranks and a host of young faces with experience seriously lacking in the Bulls side this year.
With the mass exodus now complete, the youngsters that are left are faced with a tough Currie Cup campaign to navigate with only Grant Hattingh, Willie Wepener, Werner Kruger and Dean Greyling likely to join the Currie Cup squad from the Vodacom Super Rugby semifinalists.
The situation was further complicated on Wednesday with the news that Deon Stegmann, who was expected to captain the side during the Currie Cup this year, is out for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. Stegmann will undergo surgery next week and is only likely to return for next year’s Super Rugby tournament.
On top of this, another experienced campaigner, winger Akona Ndungane, will miss the opening game along with flyhalf prodigy Handre Pollard, giving the Bulls a very young look about them.
Jantjies is therefore the obvious choice for Newlands, with Pienaar also likely to consider the likes of Willie du Plessis, who ran Tuks’ backline during their Varsity Cup campaign, and Tiaan Schoeman, who did duty during the Vodacom Cup in the position.
There were some thoughts about using Jurgen Visser in the number 10 role, as he covered for Morne Steyn during Super Rugby, but it seems he will fill the fullback role where he is more accustomed to being on the field.
Jantjies has often lived in the shadow of other flyhalves but if he can produce a decent performance at Newlands if selected, he could well see himself competing with Pollard for the No 10 jersey during the season as they did at SA under-20 level.
Considering the amount of experience that the other sides in the strength versus strength competition currently have, the Blue Bulls are seriously up against it this year and will need to use all the talent at their disposal to avoid the dreaded promotion-relegation game at the end of the season.
*Meanwhile, the Blue Bulls Company announced the extension of a number of contracts of Junior Springboks for the next few seasons.
Junior Boks Jacques Rossouw, Travis Ismaiel, Ulrich Beyers, Irnè Herbst, Dennis Visser, Jacques du Plessis and Schalk van Heerden have all renewed their contracts until 2015 while Paul Willemse, Lood de Jager and Dries Swanepoel have all signed one-year extensions to their contracts.
Commenting on the signings, BBM’s High Performance Manager Xander Janse van Rensburg said: “These are the new breed of Blue Bulls players coming through our ranks and we are delighted to have them sign on.
"They not only represent the future of Blue Bulls rugby, but also South African rugby, as shown by their performances when playing for national teams like the Junior Springboks.”