The Golden Lions flyhalf was one of the top performers of the 2008 U18 Craven Week at Affies in Pretoria.
Along with his speed on attack and good handling skills, one of the most impressive facets of Jantjies’s game was his goal-kicking accuracy. The Florida High School matriculant slotted 14 conversions and finished the tournament with a 45-point haul.
‘I was very happy with my performances at Craven Week,’ says Jantjies. ‘I was under quite a lot of pressure because a few of the flyhalves from other teams were also kicking really well. I had to raise my game or risk being left behind.’
Jantjies admits that kicking did not always come naturally to him and he puts his success down to plenty of hours spent on the field perfecting his technique.
‘When I was younger my kicking wasn’t one of my strongest points and I missed too many important kicks. In 2007, my father and I started working on it and we practised for a few hours every day. Now I’m really happy with my success rate.’
Jantjies’s efforts at Craven Week earned him a contract with the Golden Lions and he spent the rest of the year representing the union’s U19 and U21 sides in their respective provincial competitions.
The 18-year-old played a few games at fullback during that period, but his preferred role is still at pivot where he enjoys orchestrating intricate backline moves and unlocking defences with well-weighted kicks. While confident in his ability, Jantjies remains humble and is well aware that his overall game can get better.
‘I really want to improve my kicking off both feet, because it gives you a lot more options on defence and attack,’ he says.
Jantjies’s role models include his father Thomas, who was a skilled player in his day, as well as England and London Wasps flyhalf Danny Cipriani.
‘Cipriani is someone I really look up to. He has great skills and is very quick. The fact that he is playing international rugby at such a young age is a great motivation for me.’
At the time of writing, Jantjies was part of the SA U20 training squad and was hoping to be selected for the Baby Bok side that will travel to Japan in June for the Junior World Championship. Jantjies, though, is aware that he will have to work hard to force his way into the team as Sias Ebersohn (brother of Robert) and Francois Brummer (SA U20 flyhalf in 2008) are also competing for the flyhalf berth.