The desire to play for the Springboks is evident as Elton Jantjes took the time to chat to Ruggaworld. However, he was quick to reiterate that the thought was at the back of his mind, but was focused on the primary aim.
Elton wants to perform for the Lions and he hopes everything else will fall into place. Jantjes also shared with us the Lions culture, a few secrets in the squad and his possible departure from the Lions next season?
BC – Hi Elton, how are you this season?
Elton – I am well, I think all is well and the team is well, especially after being able to bounce back after the setback against the Highlanders. It was good to win against the Cheetahs and it’s gone well for me so far.
BC – The Lions are having a great season so far and have a tough fixture against the Crusaders next week. What are your expectations for the game and the season?
Elton – won’t say we are “great”. I will say that we will keep improving and we have managed to get some good results but we still not where we want to be. It’s another one of those exciting things in the squad as we look to continue to grow and get better. When we manage to get to that stage it will be even more exciting to see. We have a bye this week but the match is already in our thoughts.
The guys need to get away from rugby this week, to rest mentally as well as physically, but we are preparing for them. On Monday we will take it up a notch and must cover all bases. They are a quality outfit and they will be equally keen to take us on as well. We will be well prepared come next week Friday.
BC – The entire country went from worry and concern on how the Lions and Springboks will fare after news broke out that you got injured. A few hours later you were cleared to be ready for the game next week. What happened in the last 24 hours? Any chance you flew to Fiji?
Elton – *chuckles* Lets not talk about that. *chuckles*
BC – You are tipped to be in prime position to reclaim the Springbok jumper and you have been in fine form. Your all-round game has improved immensely especially defence. What has been the secret and what are the goals for 2016?
Elton – I think I need to keep improving and building on last year’s performances. My performances will determine where I play and if I get the call-up. If I play well for the Lions and keep improving, the international hopes will hopefully fall into place.
I always have high hopes of playing for the Springboks and it’s not just about playing, but to cement the spot. I talk to the Lions coaches and from a mental point of view I have accepted that there are opportunities and when that opportunity does come, I am hoping to grab it. Another collective hope is that more Lions will be Springboks.
BC – There are rumours swirling of you possibly leaving the Lions in the season to come. Is there any truth to that? Can Lions fans expect this to happen?
Elton – Those are rumours. There is no truth in that.
BC – The Lions dominated the clash against the Highlanders but came away with nothing but statistics in their favour. What lessons did the side learn, and you in particular?
Elton – I think against the Highlanders we saw, just what Super Rugby is about. You need to be focused for 80 minutes and we slipped up a couple of times; especially that quick throw in. I think that also changed the game’s dynamic.
You can’t afford to knock off or you will be punished. We emphasized afterwards that we must stay alert throughout the game. We played well I believe, and we realise we will have a tough 80 minutes in every single game this season.
BC – What has been your moment of 2016?
Elton – My best moment was putting on the Lions jersey for the first time against the Sunwolves after a while. It was just special. Playing at home this weekend was also special especially after being away from the stadium for more than 6 months or so. Against the Cheetahs we all stood up and everyone was a leader in their own position and it made the job easier for the ‘team’.
BC – Let’s talk style and dressing in the Lions squad. Who are the worst and best dressers in the squad?
Elton – *chuckles loudly* I must say the guys are stepping it up lately but there is one, when it comes to the worst dresser. *more audible laughter* There is always one who wears the same or struggles and that is Ruan Combrinck. *When the talk of the best dressed pops up?* It’s a combination I feel and that would be me and Lionel Mapoe. Special mention to Warren Whiteley who is giving us a push. The guys are learning from the best. *laughter*
BC – On the Lions season and how the season has gone so far?
Elton – I think the entire management has been fantastic. From the defence coaches, the medical staff, the coaches and even the most capped or uncapped players have made the atmosphere positive and enjoyable. We just enjoying training and looking to avoid getting into a comfort zone.
We need to emphasize the “always improve” aspect. We played hard and focused for just 45 mins against the Cheetahs and that was not the case for the other 25 to 35 minutes. We need to dedicate ourselves on the field 100%. We need to keep pushing and the work our conditioning coach has put in, has been massive.
We had a great pre and off season and we looking to get fitter as this improves our decision making on the field, and allows us to play for 85 minutes at least. As a player that was my goal, to get fitter.