Currie Cup

Elton: Lions and co have responsibility not to suffer from 'Covid-19 rugby fatigue'

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Elton Jantjies (Gallo Images)
Elton Jantjies (Gallo Images)
  • Covid fatigue might be real, but Elton Jantjies has assured SA rugby fans that the players aren't suffering from rugby fatigue going into this weekend's Currie Cup semi-finals.
  • In fact, the Lions captain believes keeping energy levels up for the occasion is a non-negotiable responsibility, something his team has embraced.
  • Jantjies cited the Bulls' band of veterans as dangerous, though he's also confident their senior players are a sound counter.

Covid-19 fatigue might be hampering efforts of the world to contain the resurgence of the virus, but on the bright side, South Africa's players aren't suffering from rugby-in-Covid-times fatigue.

Elton Jantjies, Springbok flyhalf and Lions skipper, has assured wary local supporters that this weekend's Currie Cup semi-finalists are more than keen to put up a show in the hallowed if maligned tournament's climax.

A steady undercurrent of thought has emerged over the past week or so that the virus-blighted domestic campaign might be better off just concluding as quickly as possible.

READ | Lions will embrace the heat at Loftus - literally and figuratively

"To be honest, it's the absolute opposite," Jantjies said ahead of his team's meeting with the Bulls at Loftus on Saturday.

"I think we actually don't want it to end. We haven't played rugby for a few months. We're very adaptable."

Known for his immense work ethic and upstanding attitude, the 30-year-old playmaker believes that local players have a responsibility not to fall into the same apathetic groove experienced by fans and observers, who've bemoaned the quality of rugby on offer this season.

"I really feel that we, as the Lions, have taken ownership of that," said Jantjies.

"There can be physical element but also a psychological element in terms of getting bored of training or getting bored of being at home too much.

"Naturally, the other way of doing it is to embrace the circumstances and the group really responded well in that regard."

Teams:

Bulls

15 David Kriel, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Stravino Jacobs, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Schalk Erasmus, 1 Lizo Gqoboka

Substitutes: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Jan Uys, 20 Arno Botha, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren

Lions

15 Tiaan Swanepoel, 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Andre Warner, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vince Tshituka, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Mavin Orie, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Sti Sithole

Substitutes: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 21 Morne van den Berg, 22 Dan Kriel, 23 Francke Horn, 24 Nathan McBeth, 25 EW Viljoen, 26 Ross Cronje 

For him personally, the coaching staff, headed by Ivan van Rooyen, deserve a lot of credit for keeping the Lions' minds and energy levels refreshed, notably experimenting with innovative training regimes.

"They've played a big role. They've consistently search for new ways to keep us hunger for more every day at training. Certain ideas have really paid off," said Jantjies.

"We also can't deny the influence of our senior players. They've kept the younger guys motivated and made them realise that what we're doing is bigger than us. It's about the team, the union and the game we're playing."

Speaking of senior influences, Jantjies said he would be remiss not highlighting the threat posed by the Bulls' band of veterans, which includes Springbok team-mates Duane Vermeulen, Trevor Nyakane, Morne Steyn and Lizo Gqoboka.

"They have great senior players and boast a leader that doesn't speak many words, but leads by example in Duane," said Jantjies.

"He's also playing great rugby. Trevor is a World Cup winner who's performed consistently this season and we all know Morne's history. 

"But we're well stocked in that regard too. We're really looking forward to this challenge."

Kick-off at Loftus is at 14:00. 

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