Jantjes hoping for a chance

Western Province and Stormers full-back Conrad Jantjes, who was on Wednesday recalled to the Springbok squad after a two-year absence, does not expect to get much game time with the newly-crowned world champions on their upcoming two-match tour of the United Kingdom.

However, if the 27-year-old WP star gets an opportunity, either against Wales in Cardiff on November 24 or against the Barbarians a week later at Twickenham, he intends to grab his chance with both hands.

“I’m not expecting to play against Wales,” said Jantjes, who last played for his country against Wales at the end of 2005..

“I don’t expect to just walk in and all of a sudden get handed the number fifteen jersey. I mean, there are guys like Ruan Pienaar, Frans Steyn and JP Pietersen, who have all recently played full-back for South Africa, in the squad already.

“[But] I’m not expecting much and I’m not going to put myself under pressure,” he added.

But his initial pessimism aside – although it is a rather understandable frame of mind one should add – Jantjes is hoping to get at least one opportunity to add to his tally of 10 Test caps during SA’s two-week foray to the UK.

“Of course I want to make an impression,” said Jantjes.

“But I’m just going to go out there and see what chances I get – you’ve got to grab your chances with both hands particularly with a new coach coming in (next year).”

Jantjes, who showed great form in an under-performing Western Province throughout the 2007 Absa Currie Cup, admitted that he had not been expecting a call-up to join the squad for the tour.

“Initially Jake said he was going to take his whole World Cup squad with him,” he explained.

“I think every time that a Springbok squad gets announced you hold thumbs or something, but this was the one time I didn’t do anything like that. I wasn’t part of the World Cup, so I didn’t really think that I had a chance.

“I was actually busy enjoying some of Cape Town’s fine wines before this [call-up],” he quipped.

Jantjes, however, is looking forward to donning a Bok jersey once again, especially now that the Boks are world champions once again.

“I’m not feeling intimidated joining a squad of world champions, I played with most of the guys already, and I’ve played under Jake before as well,” he said. “I won’t be overawed or anything like that, I’m not going to put any unnecessary pressure on myself.

“I think it is the easier, in a way, joining the side after they have won the World Cup because the bulk of the squad are so full of confidence that it carries over onto you as well.

“That said, you do have to lift your game because everyone wants to beat the world champions. I’m just really glad to be a part of it all.

“Every opportunity you get to play for your country is an honour and a privilege, although I wouldn’t have minded a call four or five weeks ago!”

Of course, Jantjes understands the realities of Jake White’s much talked about selection policy – a four-year strategy that served him very well and eventually culminated in a World Cup victory.

“I think the main reason the Boks are so good, is that they have been together for so long. I read somewhere that 11 of the guys that were in Jake’s very first squad (in 2004) are on this tour,” said Jantjes.

“A player wants a coach to show faith in them and I believe that the guys rewarded Jake for that. So often there is talk of form and who’s in and out of form, and Jake has just persisted with them. All a player wants is a coach to show a bit of faith in them.”

By Siya Mchunu and Gareth Green 365 Digital

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