Mallett: Jantjes will flourish

The Vodacom Western Province director of rugby is excited about bringing Lions fullback Conrad Jantjes to Cape Town for the 2007 season.

Jantjes has been struggling with an Achilles injury and so has not represented the Johannesburg side in the Absa Currie Cup this season. His contract with the Golden Lions Rugby Union expires at the end of October, at which time he’ll head down to the Cape to begin a career with the Stormers and Western Province. Jantjes has been with the GLRU since 1998, making his Absa Currie Cup debut in 2000 and his Super Rugby debut in 2001.

“We’re very pleased with the signing of Conrad Jantjes,” Nick Mallett told keo.co.za. “He’s been unlucky with injury this season, as he did look to be in good form when he played a few games for the Cats. He’s a very good player who’s had international experience, and should be a great asset to both the Stormers and WP.”

The 26-year-old Jantjes has played 10 internationals for the Springboks, scoring his third Test try against Wales last year. His is yet another name that has been added to the legion of backline players set to play in Cape Town next season.

Vodacom Blue Bulls fullback Hennie Daniller and Lions centre Dewey Swartbooi are both moving to Boland and will therefore be available for Super 14 selection with the Stormers side. Tonderai Chavanga and Jongi Nokwe are also set to return from injury before then.

In terms of talent already in tow, WP have Gio Aplon, Joe Pietersen and Werner Greef who can all play fullback. If Jantjes is to be utilised on the wing he faces further competition in the form of Zhahier Ryland, Egon Seconds and the recently acquired Sireli Naqelevuki. With the way these players are performing at present, Jantjes will be hard pressed to win a start in the early stages of his Stormers and WP career.

“We have looked to develop some depth in the backline,” said Mallett. “It’s great when you have guys like Jantjes coming in when your current team is doing so well. Gio Aplon is one in particular who is having an amazing season.”

Despite the wealth of talent, Province are short on bulk in the backline. This could be detrimental when they go up against bigger players like Stirling Mortlock and Ma’a Nonu in the Super 14, but Mallett believes that size is not the all-determing attribute of a quality player.

“These players all possess the invaluable qualities of speed and evasiveness that have seen them do well throughout the competition,” he said.

“When you look at a Test player like Percy [Montgomery] who only weighs about 90kg, you can believe that these smaller players can excell at the highest level.”

by Jon Cardinelli