Jan: The soul of both Springboks and Bulls
OH! HOW true was that old TV advert about Super Rugby with its catchy tune: “Jan, Jan, Jan is die soul van die span.”
Springbok and Bulls centre Jan Serfontein is proving to be the soul of both the national side and his Super Rugby franchise with his performances of late.
Serfontein played a pivotal role for the Springboks in their threenil series whitewash against France recently. He continued with his good form by helping guide the Bulls to a win against the Sharks in Durban last Friday.
However, Serfontein doesn’t want to take the credit for himself and instead believes the new environment at the Springboks and now the Bulls have been important in him finding the form that once made him the best junior player in world rugby.
“It was a good team performance against the Sharks. On a personal level I am in good form andit feels as if a lot of things are going right for me. It is about being at the right place at the right time and I’m enjoying it at the moment,” said Serfontein after Bulls training at Loftus Versfeld yesterday.
“It’s definitely the change in environment and getting the enjoyment back. It all starts with the team, if the team does better then the individuals will do better and that is what has happened at the Boks and in our game against the Sharks.”
Another contributing factor to Serfontein’s return to form has been the decisions taken by Springbok coach Allister Coetzee WELLINGTON: The British and Irish Lions need to “switch off” for a few days to heal bodies battered from their punishing tour but there is no danger of players losing their edge ahead of Saturday’s series decider against the All Blacks, said Lions assistant coach Graham Rowntree.
While the All Blacks went straight to Auckland to prepare for the third Test at Eden Park, the tourists travelled south from Wellington to New Zealand’s top winter sports destination around Queenstown for two days’ rest and relaxation.
The Lions sent the three-Test series to a decider after beating the All Blacks 24-21 at Wellington Regional Stadium this past weekend and Rowntree said the side had to physically recover in order to withstand and Bulls coach Nollis Marais to play him at his natural position at inside centre instead of out wide into the number 13 jersey.
Serfontein says the move back to number 12 and playing alongside Bulls teammate Jesse Kriel at the Springboks and an in-form Elton Jantjies at flyhalf has reignited his confidence.
“It is good to be back in my preferred position. It has helped to build a partnership with Jesse and with Elton at the Boks. I started to remember and believe in my own abilities and after a string of good games my confidence also returned, making the coming storm. “They need to switch off,” Rowntree, told reporters in Wellington before they left. “We have done it the last few Lions series, to have a few days off after the second Test because they are tired. We have worked them hard.” Rowntree, a no-nonsense loosehead prop in his playing days whose England career ended in 2006 after 54 caps, said there was no danger of the players being unable to raise the intensity level again for the decider. Victory at Eden Park would see them join the 1971 team as the only Lions side to win a Test series in New Zealand. “There is a series in the balance. How many of these guys have won a Lions series in New me believe I can still play at the highest level. It is really nice to be enjoying my rugby again,” added Serfontein.
He says the Bok environment is conducive to players expressing themselves and not fearing to make errors.
“The coaches created an environment for us where we can express ourselves and it was an easy and simple game-plan. It was all about hard work and effort and not so much about making mistakes. All of that put together and the enjoyment with all the guys on the field and playing for the Springboks was a great Zealand?” he said.
“What excites the guys is that there is more to come in our game. We’ve got the best rugby players in the home nations here and they’ve had a taste of it.
“The first Test they were down, but we got a reaction and they’ve got a taste now, so the feeling is ‘right, let’s get this done. Let’s raise our game again’.”
After losing the first test at Eden Park 30-15 last month, the Lions ended the All Blacks’ 47-match, eight-year unbeaten streak at home on Saturday and Rowntree expects a “massive reaction” from the world champions.
“They don’t make many mistakes,” he added. “They will be hurting, as we were after last week, so we’re expecting a reaction going into the game. They don’t lose there very often, do they? But we ... want to get this done. We kept ourselves alive and now head into a decider. So, the lads are aware of where we need.” – Reuters formula to perform.”
The 24-year-old Serfontein is eager to finish off his time at the Bulls with two more powerful performances before he leaves for France where he has signed to continue his game.
“It was one of my goals this year to leave Loftus on a high note so I will definitely be going out to play very well in the next two games. In the end it is about the team doing well and the better the team does, the better it is for the individuals in the team as well.
“To have a couple of good games in a row definitely helps with self-confidence. If I can build on my performances and the Bulls build on the win against the Sharks then it will look good for us when we face the Kings and Stormers.”
Meanwhile, the Bulls have suffered more injury setbacks with flank Roelof Smit being ruled out for up to two months due to a knee injury in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge quarterfinals .
Flank Renaldo Bothma will miss the remainder of the Super Rugby season after fracturing his forearm against the Sharks, while flyhalf Tony Jantjies is doubtful for this weekend after sustaining a rib injury