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by: Schalk Jonker   ·    20 December 2013

Back where he belongs

We catch up with rugby playmaker Elton Jantjies to talk about being back in Jozi and to find out more about his exploits on social media.

Elton Jantjies is one of the most talented players to ever set foot on a rugby field. The unpredictability and variation in his game makes him one of the most dangerous playmakers in the country. What sets him apart, even more, is the fact that he backs up his prowess with ball in hand with a deadly accurate kicking boot.

Players love to be on his outside because Jantjies has an uncanny ability to create space for everyone around him. He is a defender’s worst nightmare because you have to watch him until the last millisecond when he has the ball.

Jantjies played a central role in the Lions’ Currie Cup win in 2011 and made his Springbok debut shortly thereafter. With his team losing their Super Rugby status in 2013, Jantjies was loaned to the Stormers – an experience he values as it gave him a broader frame of reference to draw upon. But he’s back in Johannesburg now: back where he feels he belongs.

“Social media ... creates an avenue for me to communicate with not just my fans but with other rugby players as well.” 

After spending the first part of the 2013 season in Cape Town, you are back in Johannesburg where you’ve committed to the Lions for another two years. How’s life at the moment?

It feels like I’m back home and I couldn’t be happier. It is very important for me to be with my family and that is exactly what I have here and it makes my life a lot easier. Rugby-wise, I have been with the Lions since I was a little kid and it is the only place I want to be. They play the kind of rugby I enjoy, where I have a lot of freedom but also a lot of responsibility, and I embrace that and I believe that it makes me a better player. I also love the environment here and the good people I work with. I had no doubt that extending my contract for another two years was the right thing to do. I am very happy.

Moving away from the field, you are one of a handful of rugby players who have really embraced the whole social media culture. 

I was quite hesitant in the beginning because I actually prefer to keep my personal life personal. But I realised that social media is somewhat of a must-have because it creates an avenue for me to communicate with not just my fans but with other rugby players as well. I often ask for advice from other players. A lot of people are also interested in what happens in our lives so I try and show that it is a normal life just like theirs. People have these preconceived ideas of the lives rugby players lead because they only see them on TV and at the games. I try to give them a different perspective, from a player, by showing them what I do daily.

How do you decide what to post?

I try to think what people will read and enjoy, and as a role model I try to be responsible with what I put out. I want to get across that I live a balanced life and that I treasure my family and friends.

What are your favourite social media sites?

I’m quite active on Twitter and Instagram. I like that it gets straight to the point and I enjoy following guys like Juan de Jongh and Siya Kolisi.

If you’ve played really well, it must be great to open up your Twitter timeline. Do you do the same when you’ve had an off day?

I don’t necessarily sprint back to check social media after a game. I’m quite relaxed in that regard. I do, however, try and see what people are saying about the team rather than about me personally, regardless of whether we won or lost. And if we didn’t play well I don’t allow people’s views to affect me. We have our own personal opinions on how we played and I think they are the most important for us as rugby players. 

What’s your favourite app?

I suppose WhatsApp is my favourite because I use it all the time.

What kind of phone do you use?

I still use the Samsung Galaxy S3. I have a new iPhone and people keep telling me to start using it, but I quite enjoy my Samsung. I have an iPad that I use quite often though.

Image credit: Zane Kirchner, Elton Jantjies and Jaun de Jongh during the Castle Rugby Championship match between South Africa and Australia at Loftus Versfeld on 2 September 2012. Photo by Lee Warren / Gallo Images