Last year, this is where I expected the bloggers have a good giggle. This year, we all know the coup pulled off by Allister Coetzee and Co which has, with the signing of one player, completely changed the face of the Stormers flyhalf dilemma of the past.
This has been one of the weakest areas for the Stormers for so long now, but temporarily anyway, the winds of change have blown in with the Cape Doctor as Elton Jantjies makes his first appearance in the Mother City for the pre-season warm-ups. With Demetri Catrikillis having moved to the Southern Kings and Burton Francis gone, it is now up to Elton Jantjies, Peter Grant and Gary van Aswegen to do the business.
HEIGHT 178 cm
WEIGHT 88 Kg
BIRTH DATE 18 February 1990 – Age 22
DHL Stormers Vodacom Super Rugby – 2011
From knee injuries in 2011 to recurring ankle injuries in 2012, this kid is like a training doll for the St Johns Ambulance crew on a medical course. Will he be able to see the season through injury free? Until then, one can only speculate as to how good Gary is.
Touted by Alister Coetzee to be the flyhalf of the future when he arrived at WP HQ in 2010, frustratingly, we still await the proof. Undoubtedly a player with potential, these injuries are going to remain a career hinderance for him, I fear.
Unconvincing in his warm-up games before the start of Super Rugby 2012, he was chosen to start whilst Peter Grant was left on the bench after his late arrival from Japan. He played competently, without lighting up the match, and thereafter Grant became the No 1 choice. Later in the season Demetri Catrikillis overtook Van Aswegen in the pecking order, so he didn’t see as much game time as he should have. Then the ankle injury.
HEIGHT 176 cm
WEIGHT 84 Kg
BIRTH DATE 1 August 1990 – Age 22
Golden Lions – 2011 – 2012
DHL Western Province – 2013
A prodigious talent, as has been proven in his career so far, and probably the biggest coup in the loan signings from the Lions as they sit out the season.
Elton, alongside Patrick Lambie and Johan Goosen, are the rated flyhalves in South African rugby at the moment. WP / Stormers have really struggled over the last few years to find, and hold on to, a really gifted flyhalf. Now, for a season, at least, they have one. That is not to say that Peter Grant hasn’t done an admirable job for the Stormers so far, it is just that this kid does have the X-factor, and with the Stormers back line players that they have, and the style of play they are trying to play, he will certainly do the business.
A player with extra-ordinary vision, and coached by one of the best at the Lions, his speed, accuracy and kicking skills will make Jantjies a valuable asset, and I am sure the No 1 pivot for the Stormers. Perceived to be small and wiry, his defensive skills have always been challenged, but he has really tightened his game up in this area too, to improve his all round skills.
“I don’t compete against any flyhalf in South Africa or in the world. I compete against myself to improve as a player and just to do my job as a flyhalf and take all the responsibilities that goes with the position. So, I know I have to do my job at all aspects of the game. If I’m good at that then I can be the number one flyhalf.” Humble, and with a good head on his young shoulders, this is the players that The Stormers so deeply desired.
HEIGHT 186 cm
WEIGHT 92 Kg
BIRTH DATE 15 August 1984 – Age 28
DHL Stormers Super Rugby – 2006
Much maligned by most, Peter Grant has been a solid, consistent, and always a player that you know will give 150% all the time. Although not as gifted as the likes of Elton Jantjies, Patrick Lambie and Johan Goosen, as a back up player, no union would look this gift horse in the mouth to play for them when their cards are down. He has been a very loyal servant to WP / Stormers rugby for so long, and in many cases saved matches for his team. Absolutely solid in defence, a reliable kicker, and good vision, Peter can win matches, without necessarily lighting them up.
More likely to play second fiddle to Elton Jantjies, he will be a more than valuable bench player for the Stormers. In one fell swoop, Allister Coetzee has shored up the weakest area in the Stormers armoury, and created something that will, hopefully, take them that one step further in the following season.
He will, of course, miss the warm up season, as he will be still playing for the Kobe Steelers (Japan), but he will slot back into the Stormers squad once the season ‘proper’, starts.