Bok Trophy tour will remain with Herschel Jantjies forever
He knows he has to hit the reset button but the Rugby World Cup euphoria and associated pandemonium are hard to shake‚ admits Herschel Jantjies.
The Springbok scrumhalf says his scenes from the team’s Trophy Tour when South Africans took to the streets in large numbers to see the team parade the RWC‚ will remain with him forever.
“It was amazing to see how people came out on weekdays and waited [for the team bus]. There were people who ran next to the bus for an hour. In Cape Town I saw a guy in a wheelchair who rode next to the bus for a long time‚” Jantjies said.
“People fell next to the bus and others just helped them to their feet. For me it was special to see how people knew everybody’s name on the bus.
“I think that will stay with me forever. I will always have those memories. We worked so hard for it so I don’t think it is a feeling that will leave us overnight.
“Very few people can say they played in a Rugby World Cup final and even fewer can say they’ve won it. It is very special.”
While the buzz continues he admits shifting attention to Super Rugby will be an interesting transition. “One of these days we are back in Super Rugby preparation and things will move forward. The first day will be tough but it shouldn’t be too difficult.”
To help him hit his stride Jantjies eschewed the lucrative opportunity to play for the Barbarians in the weeks following the World Cup.
“It is the main reason I didn’t go and play for the Barbarians. I would have had to come back straight into a preseason without having a break‚” he said.
“I don’t think I would have had enough rest. I have a few more days and hopefully I’ll be okay.”
Jantjies is unconcerned about the so-called ‘second season’ syndrome in which star performers lose their sparkle in the follow-up season. He says he is aspiring to replicate the enduring quality that characterised the careers of Richie McCaw and Beast Mtawarira. His hunger persists.
“I’m not worried about it. It is about hitting the reset button. I want to hit the ground running this next season. I want to be consistent and play good rugby.”
Jantjies believes the Stormers have much to look forward to. While a lot of experience has left the country‚ the Stormers have retained some World Cup winners in their ranks.
“I’m excited. Guys like Damian [de Allende] and Eben [Etzebeth] have left but we have a few others who have remained. They are going to play an important role with the young players in the group.
“If a young player seizes the opportunity he is presented then the team will benefit as much compared to an experienced player. We have a new coach and new energy and we as youngsters have no excuse not to perform well.”
He concedes the Stormers’ last season at Newlands may be an emotional one but says that should be a source of inspiration.
“It will be special. I think the boys will play with a lot of emotion in our home games. Newlands will always remain in our hearts.
“I was lucky enough to play one season at Newlands and now this will be the last season. On the one hand it is a farewell but it is also another challenge to go to Cape Town Stadium. It will be exciting.”