Super Rugby

Bok withdrawal at least gives Elton Jantjies a proper Newlands swansong

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Elton Jantjies
Elton Jantjies
  • The Springboks' withdrawal from the Rugby Championship has at least guaranteed Elton Jantjies a swansong at Newlands.
  • Before the decision was confirmed, there was the possibility that he wouldn't be able to lead out his Lions team for a final time at the hallowed ground.
  • Former Stormer Dan Kriel says an empty stadium might take a small sting out of the home side's assault but warned a big battle is still on the cards.

The Springboks' withdrawal from the Rugby Championship has at least cast away any doubt that Elton Jantjies wouldn't have a Newlands swansong with his beloved red-and-white shirt on.

The Lions skipper had a complicated "relationship" with the Stormers' hallowed home-ground initially after an ill-fated Super Rugby stint on loan for the Cape franchise back in 2013 but also experienced the highs of an unexpected draw in 2015 and then a compelling and comprehensive victory two years later with the men from Ellis Park.

He also showed all his experience in managing his playbook well at the Springbok Showdown a fortnight ago.

"I actually thought the Showdown was going to be my last appearance there," Jantjies said with a wry smile, undoubtedly a thought formed by the previous uncertainty over whether the national team would travel to Australia.

"I only heard and actually realised this week that we're playing at Newlands. It's another opportunity, yes."

That said, the clinical and measured 30-year-old pivot believes the Stormers, the Lions' opponents for this week's round of Super Rugby Unlocked matches, will probably be driven more by emotion than he himself.

"Obviously the Stormers will be emotional playing us. It's the last game of our rivalry at the ground," said Jantjies.

"It's always a nice battle, a physical one with lots of intensity. Both sides are going to go for it. We're definitely ready."

Meanwhile, midfielder Dan Kriel - who was still on Western Province's payroll last season - notes that the Stormers will have to adapt a bit to not having their vociferous crowd behind them.

After all, he experienced it first-hand.

"Jeez, Newlands always has an awesome. It's nice to have a full stadium and get a feel for the atmosphere," said Kriel.

"But everyone's adapted sort of now. We know there won't be spectators. I'm not saying it's going to make things easier for us (but it's a factor). It's going to a really tough battle that we're looking forward to."

Kick-off at Newlands is at 19:00 on Saturday.

Teams:

Stormers

15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff

Substitutes: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Michal Haznar, 23 Tim Swiel

Lions

15 EW Viljoen, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Burger Odendaal, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Morne van den Berg, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Sti Sithole

Substitutes (from): 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 MJ Pelser, 21 Hacjivah Dayimani, 22 Ross Cronje, 23 Gianni Lombard, 24, Wandisile Simelane, 25 Ruan Dreyer

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