Rugby Championship

Have Jantjies, Reinach completed RWC No 9 puzzle?

2019-07-22 11:48
Herschel Jantjies (Gallo)
Herschel Jantjies (Gallo)

Cape Town - When he left the Ellis Park turf in the 65th minute on Saturday and took his place on the South African bench, 23-year-old Herschel Jantjies could not stop smiling. 

It was one of the best Springbok debuts you're ever likely to see, capped off by a sniping blindside dart - a classic scrumhalf moment - that earned him his second try of the match. 

Jantjies passed crisply and accurately, his box-kicking always gave chasers a chance, his running was full of purpose and intensity and at one stage he even played a hand in enforcing a turnover off the ground. 

In his wildest dreams, the Paul Roos-educated No 9 could not have scripted a better start to his Test career and in one performance he has jumped ahead of Louis Schreuder, Ivan van Zyl and Embrose Papier in the Springbok pecking order. 

It seems that way, anyway, with just three Test matches left for the Boks before they must name their squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. 

Jantjies, quite possibly, has taken just over an hour to book his ticket. 

Given the concerns over the quality in scrumhalf depth the Boks have faced over the past few years, Saturday's performance should be welcomed and celebrated. 

Jantjies was the form South African No 9 in Super Rugby this year and one of the shining lights in what was a disappointing season for the Stormers, so it didn't come as a complete shock when he was picked by Erasmus. 

Still, nobody could have predicted the immediate impact he would have on the international stage and he has now been included in the touring party for this Saturday's clash against the All Blacks in Wellington. 

While backing the exuberance of youth should always be encouraged, the Boks will need experience at scrumhalf and they will continue to put their faith in incumbent Faf de Klerk.

De Klerk is expected to start Saturday's clash against the All Blacks in Wellington (09:35 SA time), and if that is the case then coach Rassie Erasmus must choose between Jantjies and Cobus Reinach for his back-up. 

De Klerk (Sale) and Reinach (Northampton) were both nominated for the Player of the Year award in the English Premiership this year and with Erasmus now casting the net as wide as possible to include all overseas options, he can field both of them. 

Reinach, like Jantjies, also took his opportunity against the Wallabies during his cameo on Saturday, but it is his experience and all-round reliability that combine to make him such an attractive option. 

Being able to bank on the pedigree of Reinach would also give Erasmus the freedom to go into the World Cup with the x-factor of Jantjies, who despite his trailblazing start, is largely untested. 

Those three together just seem to strike the right balance. 

It is, of course, only one game in and Jantjies has a lot to prove before anyone can get too excited. 

The signs in 2019, however, have been there in both Stormers and now Springbok colours.

They suggest a future as bright as any.

 

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