Elton's advice for Damian
Johannesburg - Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies has offered some advice for 19-year old Stormers prod Damian Willemse as he settles into his new role in the Cape Franchise – feed off your team-mates.
Jantjies, who will go into a head-to-head battle with Willemse this coming weekend when the Stormers travel to Johannesburg to face the Lions in their Super Rugby match on Saturday, was also once a 19-year old prodigy plucked from obscurity and subject to similar hype and belief that Willemse now has to deal with, according to supersport.com website.
And while Willemse has shown he is one of the best young talents in the country at the moment, as Jantjies says, that can all change in a second, and by immersing himself in the team culture it would be better for Willemse’s long term development.
Jantjies smiled when asked if he had advice for young Willemse, and made sure to underline the fact that Willemse must still simply “enjoy” his rugby.
“Just to keep on doing what he is doing and be open-minded and keep on learning, keep on feeding from the individuals around you. Because when you are a young player, you want to do things on your own. If you do something wrong, you want to fix it by yourself, instead of feeding from the guys around you,” Jantjies said.
“ I think that is some advice that I would give to any younger player, to feed off the guys around you because it is a 15 man game. It is not Elton Jantjies or Damian playing against the Lions, it is still the Lions playing against the Stormers.
“It is still a 15-man or 23-man effort. That is the advice I would give to a younger player - to feed off the guys around you, off your 9, 10 and 12 works together.
“That takes a lot of pressure off you as an individual but it depends do you put pressure on yourself or do you go out there to enjoy your rugby?”
And while the debate is ongoing whether Willemse should play test rugby at the age of 19, or rather continue his linear development upwards through the SA under-20 system before being exposed to test rugby, Jantjies believes he needs to decide whose advice he should follow and stick to it.
He also believes the current competition between the 10s - including Handre Pollard, Robert du Preez and himself is a good thing for the game.
“For me it is easy. I respect people’s opinions, we all can give our opinions but it is up to you as an individual if you are going to take them in. I have my own standards, my own goals. What I want to achieve.
“ But back to the point of flyhalves in South Africa. It is good for our country, you can’t fade away from that, we haven’t had it for the past few years as well. It’s good for South African rugby that we have some depth at flyhalf as well.”
Jantjies struggled with the hype when he was younger, but matured into a top class international player through hard work and dedication. There is no reason that Willemse can’t do the same, if handled correctly.