Jantjies a big hit in Japan

2014-10-14 11:58
Elton Jantjies (Photo supplied)
Cape Town - Flyhalf Elton Jantjies is enjoying life on and off the field at Japanese club NTT Shining Arcs.

The Lions flyhalf headed to the Far East after Super Rugby and has settled in nicely at his new team.

At the Shining Arcs, he features alongside former All Blacks lock Isaac Ross and former Lions team-mate and USA captain Todd Clever, while he has developed a great relationship with the local players.

Jantjies has also emerged as a pivotal player for the club. He has featured in all their games this season, helping them to four wins from six as they aim to qualify for the league playoffs and All-Japan Championship knockouts.

He's been a big factor on attack, while he's kicked 55 points so far, including a match-winning drop goal during the 32-31 over the NEC Green Rockets in round five.

Jantjies said the overseas experience has done him a world of good.

"It's crazy to think I've been here for three months already. Time has flown by!" Jantjies told the MyPlayers website.

"On the field, I love my role in the team as I'm making the key decisions at flyhalf. I love that responsibility. It has given me a lot of confidence. It's the kind of role I had under John Mitchell and Carlos Spencer at the Lions when we won the Currie Cup in 2011.

"I've started all of the games and have been named man-of-the-match too. I'm definitely happy with my progress so far.

"Off the field, it's been awesome living in a different culture. I've had the opportunity to tour Japan, including Tokyo, which is an awesome city. I've been shopping and visited several restaurants. I'm learning the language too, taking a few lessons a week."

Many South Africans have opted for Japan over Europe in recent years. Jantjies said he's bumped into several Saffers.

"I've played against the likes of Jacques Potgieter (Sanix Blues), Keegan Daniel (Kubota Spears) and Ryan Kankowski (Toyota Shuttles). I'll most likely play against Jaque Fourie (Kobe Steelers), Schalk Burger and Fourie du Preez (both Suntory Sungoliath) later on during the season.

"The game is quick in Japan," he added. "The clubs focus on quick rucks and a rushed defence. You need to be swift on your feet.

"The overall training regime is also different compared to things in South Africa. Here in Japan, we only start with practice in the afternoon as the local players work at their respective companies during working hours. We usually start at 3pm or 4pm, and end during the evenings."

Jantjies will visit South Africa for two weeks once the Japanese league stage finishes on October 19, and will head back for the knockout playoffs in November.

He looks forward to spending some quality time with family and friends when he returns home.

"I still keep in contact with my mom, brother and friends. I speak to guys like Lionel Mapoe, Juan de Jongh and Siya Kolisi very often," said Jantjies.

"I brought my mom over for a visit when I got to Japan. She enjoyed it. But I'm looking forward to chilling with family and friends back home.

"I'll head back to the club for training after my visit, and then return to Johannesburg in time for the Lions' Super Rugby campaign in February. I'm confident my time in Japan will prepare me for a big season next year."

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Elton Jantjies is a big hit in Japan... (Photo supplied)

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