Elton Jantjies, whose cameo performance off the bench saw the Boks clinch a thrilling win over the All Blacks, has praised the team for retaining belief in their ability to secure such a result.
The Springboks departed for South Africa via Brisbane this past Sunday in high spirits following a rewarding 31-29 victory over the All Blacks in their final Rugby Championship match, hoping to carry that confidence into the end-of-year tour.
The Springboks showed their grit to bounce back from three defeats on the trot – two by the Wallabies and one by the All Blacks with two of those losses by way of late penalty goals – as Jantjies kicked a drop goal and two penalties to seal the win.
Talking through the nail-biting closing minutes of the match, Jantjies said self-belief was at the centre of the Boks’ brave effort.
“I’m not a person that focuses on individual performances, for me it’s all about the team,” he said. “And all credit to the guys and how well they handled the last 10 minutes of the match.
“When it came to closing the game and getting the result, one could see the boys have been in that position before. The team did really well because a lot happened in that last few minutes. We spoke a lot about belief this week, and we stuck to the plan and when the opportunities came, we took them.”
Jantjies added: “We had a plan going into the game and I think we executed it quite well. For me, it was a good performance in all departments.
“Obviously we conceded a few cynical penalties but that’s part of the game. The guys on the bench also played a massive role. The coaches trusted them to do the job and they came through today.”
Describing what went through his mind when slotted the memorable drop goal and a last-minute penalty for the win, he said: “I train my drop goals because one never knows when you will get a chance to kick one, and I got the opportunity this time.
“With the penalty we probably celebrated too early, but I just made sure that I put my head down and kicked it over. It is something I practice every day, so I wasn’t nervous.”
The Springboks will have two weeks off to rest and recuperate before their end-of-year tour to the UK, and Jantjies and Duane Vermeulen said the victory inspired them with an eye on their next assignment.
“We’ve been together for the last four months, and we experienced some highs and lows together, but to finish the tour on such a positive note is great and hopefully we can carry that into the year-end tour,” said Jantjies.
Vermeulen lauded the team’s fighting spirit after showing their adaptability in the past few months with several challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic since the inception of the B&I Lions series and said: “One has to experience it [touring under C0vid-19 restrictions] first-hand to really understand what it is about.
“It isn’t as easy as people think because we are away from home and our families, and some of the players have children who they don’t see.
“Over and above that, in the first two weeks of our Australian tour we were in quarantine and had no contact with people from outside, and when that was over, we had to adjust to a new normal and, in the end, we managed to get it all together and we could walk away from the tour with a win.
“There is a great vibe and energy in the team and hopefully we can carry that over to the year-end tour.”
Photo: Getty Images
You may also like