Cape Town — After all the drama that has engulfed his life over the last few months, Elton Jantjies is now ready to get back to what he does best — playing rugby.
The 32-year-old Springbok flyhalf was left out of the squad for the November tour to Europe, having had little game-time in 2022 due to injuries and then selection decisions during the international season.
But things became murky after he was sent home from the Bok tour of Argentina after reports of an alleged affair with team dietitian Zeenat Simjee, and the fall-out from that resulted in Jantjies opting to stay at the Harmony Clinic in Hout Bay, Cape Town to get away from the spotlight, and also treat his insomnia issues.
Over the last few weeks, though, he has been hard at work getting back into top shape, as well as spending quality time with his wife Iva Ristic and three children in Turkey, with regular posts on his Instagram account.
Jantjies spoke about his journey this year during a RugbyPass Offload podcast this week, and now he wants to prove his worth on the pitch once more in order to be selected for next year’s World Cup in France.
And that will be with a French club as well from December. Although Jantjies didn’t reveal which team he will be playing for, he has been linked with Toulon — which is also where Bok teammate Cheslin Kolbe and former South Africans Quinn Roux and Cornell du Preez are part of the squad.
“Obviously I want to be there, but I’ve got some personal stuff that I’m sorting out, and getting a break to spend some time with my family after I hadn’t seen them for like seven months. So, it’s time for me to focus on my family, and get back to the field whenever time allows me,” Jantjies said.
“I’ve got two more weeks left, and then I’m heading off to France and getting back into it. I will get straight onto the park and be ready for June, for the next Test.
“So for me, it’s just to get back after my break from rugby, and just finding the form that I always had and hopefully put me into a position to be selected.
“But we have a plan. We (Jantjies and the Bok management) keep in touch every single week.”
Jantjies — who has 46 Test caps and was last on the pitch against Australia in Adelaide in late August — praised SA director of rugby Rassie Erasmus for his support and assisting him to get help at the clinic.
“He took me there and we chatted, and I said ‘Coach, I think it’s a great idea’, and he said ‘Ja, let’s do it’. From his perspective, whatever he tells me to do, I will do it — 99.9%. Hopefully a lot of the boys can say the same things, but he’s a good friend for me and a good coach as well,” the Bok pivot said.
“He’s very honest with me. I take his opinions in high regard. He’s fun on the field and off the field as well. There is a line that you as a player or management don’t want to cross, but we are like a family. He is a family type of guy, so I think we would do anything for him.
“He enjoys a beer with you, but when it’s time to work, we work hard as well. He played the game as well, so he’s also got a lot of learnings out of his experience as a player and a coach.
“Me and Rassie had a chat, and we are sticking to the plan for me to switch off, and then get back to club rugby and then the Springboks again.”