Elton Jantjies chats to Sport24

    2015-05-14 10:50

    Grant Shub

    Cape Town - In an exclusive interview, Lions flyhalf ELTON JANTJIES discusses his love for boxing, fighting to get back into the Springbok fold and facing the Brumbies in Johannesburg on Saturday.

    Sport24 asked: One of your personal mantras is to “never attach time when it comes to preparation.” Tell us about the hours of hard work you put in when no one is watching.

    Elton Jantjies: Over and above the training I do with the Emirates Lions on a weekly basis, I work out with boxing trainer Sebastiaan Rothmann. I have been doing evening classes after rugby training for the past five years. I have benefited hugely from the upper-body training I do and my endurance and fitness levels have increased. I have also found that the breathing techniques I have learned from boxing complement my kicking game. Boxing, much like rugby, is about going into that mental zone and from a physical standpoint, I could compare boxing’s quest for individual dominance to making a tackle in a match or winning a collision.

    Sport24 asked: What were your impressions of the ‘Fight of the Century’ between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao? Why do you believe Mayweather is the best ever?

    Elton Jantjies: The promoters hyped up the fight but I don’t think it lived up to expectation. ‘Money’ Mayweather was dominant the whole bout and to be honest it wasn’t entertaining. I have supported Floyd for a few years now and knew that he would definitely beat Manny. The American is a smart fighter, and while some say he was more defensive, he actually threw more punches than Pacquiao. Pacquiao’s strengths are his attacking abilities and his counter-punching but he didn’t have a chance to use those weapons as Floyd boxed clever. I hear Manny is after a re-match but I think it would be stupid, as Floyd would just win again.

    Sport24 asked: Super Rugby’s own Sonny Bill Williams and Quade Cooper have taken to the ring. Would you be keen to do something similar in the not too distant future?

    Elton Jantjies: Definitely. I am considering an amateur fight but I still have to discuss it with a few people. As a professional rugby player, you have to get the green light from your union. Williams and Cooper have both shown how exciting it is when bringing two sports together. While they have displayed you can do two sports at once, it mustn’t interfere with your rugby. Rugby remains my primary focus but boxing is a passion of mine on the side.

    Sport24 asked: You have played 727 minutes this season. Are you satisfied with the standards you’ve set, and how would you score your attack, defence and kicking game?

    Elton Jantjies: I believe I need to lift my standards much higher because making the Springbok World Cup squad is still the goal. Whenever I get my chance on the field, I have to make the most of it and express myself. Many say my attacking game is my strong point but I believe in building on your strengths. On attack, I would score myself an eight or nine out of 10. While I have never had a problem with my defence, I can keep on improving in order make dominant hits. A team thrives when a flyhalf makes a lot of tackles, and I feel that that is something I’m living up to. I would score myself a seven or eight out of 10 in the defensive department. My kicking game is a seven. When it comes to decision-making and winning the territorial battle from a tactical kicking perspective, there is always room for improvement.

    Sport24 asked: You earned your two Springbok caps off the bench during the 2012 Rugby Championship. Have you set your sights on making the Bok No 10 jersey your own?

    Elton Jantjies: I can talk a big game but if my performances on the field don’t match up, there is no point in me saying that I want to go to the World Cup and be the first-choice Bok flyhalf. I believe my performances will determine where I play. I want to become a regular for the Springboks and want to make sure I get a starting place in the match 23. I believe the strong competition at flyhalf is good for South African rugby. But like my late father Thomas taught me, I don’t compete against anyone in the world, I compete against myself. While I hope to see my name in the Springbok squad again, my immediate aim is to develop my strengths and improve my weaknesses in order for me to be at my best as an individual.

    Sport24 asked: Having played in Japan for the Shining Arcs – and set to return for another season post-World Cup – what are your thoughts on the standard of the Japanese league?

    Elton Jantjies:  A lot of people have the perception that playing in Japan is a walk in the park. However, from first-hand experience, you can’t just pitch up and expect to do well. In Japan, the emphasis is on quick ruck ball, and the ball-in-play time is even longer than I’ve experienced in the southern hemisphere. But it’s not just about doing a lot of running; you have to make smart decisions. My coach at the Arcs, Rob Penney (formerly New Zealand under-20 and Canterbury coach) challenged me on my decision-making every week.

    Sport24 asked: There are suggestions that Japan could provide the solution for the South African player drain to Europe. Would an influx of South Africans enhance the league?

    Elton Jantjies: Allowing a few foreigners to come over and play helps the clubs and local players but if you are going to have 15 South Africans playing for one team in Japan, I don’t see Japanese rugby growing. It’s a good thing for South African rugby if our players only play in Japan over the Currie Cup but I don’t see it being effective for Japan because they want to grow as a rugby country and make rugby one of their top three sports. While it will certainly be good for Japan’s rugby development to have a Super Rugby franchise from 2016, I believe they are in need of another competition to complement their Top League. At present, in Japan you play for six months and have the other six months off. They need to have the equivalent of Currie Cup and Super Rugby in order to further improve their game.

    Sport24 asked: The Brumbies conceded 19 penalties against the Stormers and were negative at the tackle contest. What are you expecting from Stephen Larkham’s men?

    Elton Jantjies: As a goal-kicker, those stats are good to look at because you can get extra points from a side’s ill-discipline. That said, I’m sure the Brumbies would have rectified that aspect in their preparation this week. Larkham is doing very well as a head coach. The way the backline plays and the running lines they execute are similar in terms of how he played at the Brumbies. They are also one of the top sides when launching from set-piece and are well-drilled on defence. We are going to have to work harder than them to end up on top.


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