DHL Stormers scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies is delighted to be fit, firing and back in the tries as he looks to take his game up a notch in 2023.
In his first game back from a rib injury, Jantjies dotted down off the bench to help the DHL Stormers complete a comeback win over ASM Clermont Auvergne and secure a home last 16 match in the Heineken Champions Cup.
The 26-year-old was a key part of last season’s Vodacom United Rugby Championship win, but nagging injuries have limited him to five appearances in the tournament this season.
“Missing out on a few games at home and on tour due to injury has been really frustrating,” said Jantjies. “In saying that, it gave me some time to reflect and make sure I am still on the right path.
“Last week’s game was very special and I think the way we came back from our first half performance shows what we stand for as the DHL Stormers and hopefully says something about the standards that we set for ourselves.”
Next up for Jantjies is a trip to Belfast to take on Ulster as the Vodacom United Rugby Championship resumes after two weeks of Heineken Champions Cup action.
The DHL Stormers have travelled to Ireland without the likes of captain Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe, and Jantjies’ status as a Springbok places him among the leaders in a young team that includes Suleiman Hartzenberg (19) and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (20).
“I think with the long season, it’s good for the boys [Kitshoff and Malherbe] to get a bit of a breather! We need them firing when it’s crunch time,” said Jantjies.
“I really enjoy the challenge of leadership, it’s always great to contribute in whatever way possible. I am in a very fortunate position and am definitely very blessed to be seen in a leadership position, and my number one priority is to lead with my performances and the way that I carry myself between the four lines. The rest of the stuff is purely a bonus.”
The last time the DHL Stormers met Ulster was in last season’s tightly contested semi-final in Cape Town, when Manie Libbok’s injury time conversion memorably won the game.
However, Jantjies anticipates a steeper challenge when the DHL Stormers play at the Kingspan Stadium for the first time.
“Ulster will be a different monster in the sense that they are at home and are used to the conditions and the fact that they are playing in front of what will hopefully be a packed home crowd for them.”
While he was delighted to get on the score sheet for the third time in all competitions this season, Jantjies is intent on growing his game as he targets a place in the Springbok squad that will travel to France for the 2023 World Cup.
“Tries are always fun and contributing in any way possible is what it’s all about. It was a step in the right direction and for me, it’s always been about chasing myself and trying to improve and adapt.
“Sometimes things don’t go your way, but I believe that if I keep working hard and keep on trying, things will eventually go my way. The goal now is to work even harder and to make sure my name is with no doubt on that World Cup list.”