Jan­tjies ex­pects ex­pan­sive play to pro­duce bet­ter Bok tour show

Saturday Star - - SPORT - JAC­QUES WESTHUYZEN

SPRING­BOK fly­half El­ton Jan­tjies will en­cour­age his team-mates and pos­si­bly even the coach­ing staff not to change a thing about the team’s style of play dur­ing their fourTest tour of Europe this month.

Jan­tjies, who has es­tab­lished him­self as the Boks’ num­ber one fly­half over the last year, will join up with the squad to­mor­row in Dublin ahead of next Satur­day’s opener against Ire­land. The other Tests are against France, Italy and Wales.

The Boks will look to im­prove on last year’s Euro­pean tour when they failed to win in four out­ings, and kick on from this year’s im­proved show­ing which has seen them beat France (three times in June) and Ar­gentina (twice) and draw twice with Aus­tralia. They have only lost to New Zealand, twice.

Last time out, four weeks ago, they were edged by a point by the All Blacks at New­lands, and Jan­tjies wants the team to con­tinue play­ing an ex­pan­sive ball-in-hand game seen in the Rugby Cham­pi­onship, rather than go­ing all con­ser­va­tive be­cause of Euro­pean con­di­tions.

“It’s a mind­set bar­rier one has to get over, play­ing in Europe and the dif­fer­ent weather con­di­tions and so-called north­ern hemi­sphere teams,” he said from Ja­pan, where he plays for the NTT Shin­ing Arcs.

“There’s no need to change any­thing just be­cause we’re up north. The key will be stick­ing with what we’ve done up to now and what we’re fa­mil­iar with. There’s no rea­son to change our game for four weeks; we need to stick to our pro­cesses of what’s worked.”

The Boks will look to kick on from a far more suc­cess­ful 2017 and Jan­tjies is likely to play a cru­cial role. He’ll face com­pe­ti­tion from within the squad on tour from fit-again Han­dre Pol­lard and with Curwin Bosch wait­ing in the wings, but right now he’s the man wear­ing the No 10.

He said he’s feel­ing re­freshed and re­ju­ve­nated af­ter tak­ing some time out of the game re­cently. “I took two weeks off af­ter the New­lands game to work on my strength and con­di­tion­ing and feel good again,” he said. “My mind and body are in the right con­di­tion, so the time off did me very well. I’ve got a big re­spon­si­bil­ity com­ing up on tour and am ex­cited again to be able to fea­ture for the Boks.”

Jan­tjies said the Boks were in a much bet­ter space now than a year ago and he’s ex­pect­ing a much-im­proved show­ing.

“Our cul­ture is strong now, we’ve grown the fam­ily en­vi­ron­ment and our work ethic is right. We’re will­ing to die for the guy next to us on the field, so we’ve come a long way.

“It was a big learn­ing curve for a lot of us a year ago and you can see how we’ve man­aged to put that learn­ing to use. The mind­set is dif­fer­ent, the re­sults have been bet­ter, so we’ve def­i­nitely ben­e­fited from those losses and gained ex­pe­ri­ence.”

On a per­sonal level, the Bok No 10 is hop­ing to con­tinue his growth over the next month and he said he’d picked up a few new “tricks”.

“I want to get bet­ter every time I go out there. I want to im­prove my de­ci­sion-mak­ing and my game man­age­ment and so have watched some NFL (Na­tional Foot­ball League) and NRL (Na­tional Rugby League) games to see if I can learn any­thing new.

“I got in­ter­ested in those codes at the begin­ning of the year and have con­tin­ued to watch how they do things, the de­ci­sions they make.

“It’s about think­ing out the box, con­tin­u­ally learn­ing. There’s only so much you can get from rugby, rugby and rugby, so hope­fully I’ve added some­thing to my game.”

He will re­turn to his Ja­panese club af­ter the tour and re­turn to South Africa in late Jan­uary to join up with the Lions for Su­per Rugby.

Mean­while, half of the Bok squad left South Africa yes­ter­day en route to Dublin, via Doha, with the other half leav­ing today.

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