Johannesburg - He may not be fully over the jetlag after jetting in from the Rio Olympics, but Juan de Jongh is adamant he wants no favours in re-establishing himself in the Springbok squad.
According to the SuperSport website, De Jongh won a bronze medal with the Blitzboks in Rio but knows he will have to work hard to ensure he gets into the Bok 15s team again and to keep his place there.
It isn’t a state secret that De Jongh was a frustrated man in the previous Springbok administration, first picked for the Bok squad and then discarded as former coach Heyneke Meyer deemed him too small for international rugby.
But the Stormier captain believes he has what it takes to make it in the international game and will use his skills to ensure he plays a part under new coach Allister Coetzee, who he has a long-working relationship with.
When quizzed about the frustration of not being deemed well enough by previous Bok regimes, De Jongh said he wanted no favours, but was willing to prove himself.
“That’s life, that’s something that is out of my control. The only thing that I can focus on is making sure I play good rugby, making sure I’m prepared and making sure that my legacy and what I want to achieve is there. That is something in the past now and I don’t want to go too far into that, “he said.
“My only thing I can do is to work hard, to make sure I am prepared and to give myself an opportunity even though some people don’t think the same way. I need to let the man upstairs do the work.
“It’s important to me to stay positive at all times, and I am a positive guy, a guy that works hard, a guy who wants to build on my legacy and give input and learn from this whole setup because when it is gone it is gone.
“I don’t want any favours in life, for me it is important to bring my A game, to work hard so when it comes to the weekend I’m ready. I can express myself on the field and inspire where I want to inspire.”
While Sevens has a higher work rate and less place to hide on a field, its fitness regime is very different to 15s as well, so De Jongh won’t need to worry about match fitness ahead of a gruelling Castle Lager Rugby Championship.
His challenge now is to digest the moves and calls of a team he wants to make a difference in, in order to be ready when he takes the field.
“They are two different codes so it is important for me to make sure now that I’m ready. There is a lot of detail that needs to go into the Springboks now. Sevens is totally different to 15s – there is a lot of other things you need to do there that you can’t do here.
“There are habits you learn in sevens that you can’t do in fifteens and vice versa. I’ve got some time now to make sure I gel into this team culture and make sure I know all the calls and that I’m prepared.
“Hopefully I can still be smart and strong upstairs to make sure I get away from those bad habits and the negative stuff.”
He admits his teammates have quizzed him about the bronze medal – which is safely locked away at home – and while it is a dream come true, De Jongh believes he could well even be in Tokyo in four years’ time.
“They did ask me about my medal, but it is safely at home. It is something I will cherish for the rest of my life. The past few months with the Sevens has been absolutely fantastic.
“When I started my career, the Olympics was never a goal and now I can call myself an Olympic medallist and that is part of building my legacy and inspiring people to achieve what they want to achieve.
“It is always difficult to change codes and make it into the Sevens team, especially being 28 and being away for so many years. You need to cherish the moments and enjoy them because you never know when it’s gone.
“Hopefully the next time around when it comes, I will be 32 and hopefully the legs will carry because I’d be excited to go for another round.
“It was important to take a lot of memories out of it and to enjoy myself to the fullest.”
Motivated to do well, De Jongh may well feature against Argentina this weekend in a role still to be announced and if he does, chances are he will be more than ready to show his worth.
Read the story on SuperSport