Jantjes still optimistic

PUBLISHED: March 30, 2009

The Vodacom Stormers find themselves in a precarious position on the points’ table but fullback Conrad Jantjes is still optimistic about his side’s chances of reaching the Vodacom Super 14 playoffs.

The Stormers failed on Saturday to live up to the expectations created by the magnificent performance against the Lions, as they went down 11-7 to the Crusaders in Christchurch. On Saturday they take on the high-flying Waratahs in Sydney in a match that they need to win to keep the campaign on track.

Jantjes, who made his return as a substitute after a calf injury forced him out of the game for several weeks, on Monday said he was feeling much better than immediately after the game. The Springbok fullback played at wing after he replaced flyhalf Willem de Waal.

“I am actually feeling good after the feeling of disappointment yesterday. I allow myself to sulk for only 24 hours and than it’s over and something of the past,” said the former Lions star.

He said he was glad that he was over the injuries that blighted his pre-season preparation. “The calf injury was very irritating and I had a few little niggles – in the pre-season it was a groin. That obviously gave me a bit of a chance to work on my fitness and now I am feeling good and strong again.”

Commenting on the game Saturday Jantjes said when he went on he was only focused on making a difference. “All you want to do when you go on is to make a difference. It was a difficult situation we got ourselves into but with nine minutes on the clock we were still in the game.

“We just needed the bounce of the ball. Two weeks ago against the Lions everything went for us but on Saturday it was just the opposite.”

Jantjes believes that all is not over for the Cape franchise and that like last year they can bounce back with a strong run in the final stretch of the competition. “I think we still have a chance. The difference between last year and this year is that last year nobody expected anything from us.

“There still is a lot of rugby to play. Last year we were in a similar situation and we just have to do the job now.”

Jantjes, on reflecting on the defeat against the Crusaders, said the big problem was that the Stormers could not get into scoring positions. “We chatted about getting into their 22 but we couldn’t even get there. The problem was we couldn’t get there.

“Gone are the days when you could score 80 meters tries from your own 22. Defences have sharpened up quite a bit and that is just not happening anymore.”

He said the mood after the game against the Crusaders was gloomy and the trip from Christchurch to Sydney was a long one although it was only three hours. “Obviously all of us were all disappointed but we realize we have to get on with the job and put the disappointment behind us.”

The Waratahs beat the Blues on Saturday and will be looking to continue in the same vein against the Stormers. Jantjes said the players are aware of the fact they have to lift the standard of their game.

“We don’t have a choice, we just have to. We have quite a decent record against the Waratahs and we got to put whatever happened to us behind us and concentrate on the next game of rugby.”