Scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies is a proud product of Kylmore, which is not far from the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch, where the DHL Stormers face Benetton on Friday.
A product of Cape rugby factory Paul Roos Gymnasium in the Stellenbosch winelands, the halfback is relishing the opportunity to play in front of familiar faces.
“I’m a proud Kylemore boytjie, representing the community,” said Jantjies. “Stellenbosch is special and is probably where I played and learned most of my schoolboy rugby. I know the vibe will be exceptional and the pitch is perfect for some running rugby.”
Jantjies said that the narrow defeat against Irish giants Munster at DHL Stadium last week has fired up the DHL Stormers as they look to build momentum for the Vodacom United Rugby Championship playoffs.
“With no disrespect to Benetton, I don’t think their will to win can be bigger than ours, regardless of where either team finds themselves on the log,” he added. “We are a tight group and we go out every single weekend to not give anyone a single inch. I can’t see it being any different on Friday.”
Benetton travel to Stellenbosch with a contingent of South African players, among them former DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage and Paarl-born playmaker Rhyno Smith.
On the challenge facing the SA-born duo, Jantjies said: “I actually made my DHL Stormers debut coming off the bench for Dewies in 2018. He is a great servant of the game and has been playing really well for Benetton.
“And we all know that Rhyno is a very talented player and has scored and created some amazing tries this season. We will just have to give our absolute best and try to shut down whatever is thrown at us.”
Jantjies made his 50th appearance for the DHL Stormers in the Heineken Champions Cup in December, and he is excited to cheer on teammate Paul de Wet who is set to reach the same milestone this week.
“I am incredibly happy for Paul. We have known each other for forever. I am sure he can be very proud of what he has achieved over his career so far.”
Jantjies has jockeyed with De Wet for the DHL Stormers No 9 jersey, and he believes the race to start at halfback has benefitted the defending champions.
“Competition is always great, for the individual and the team. It keeps everyone on their toes.”