Elton Jantjies chats to Sport24
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
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.
Roger De Sa
Hennie le Roux
Peter de Villiers
Ian McIntoshCarel du Plessis
Braam van Straaten
Pat SymcoxJoe van Niekerk
Heyneke MeyerTiaan Strauss