The Scots beat Australia in front of a boisterous crowd of close to 68,000 at Murrayfield last weekend, a result that will have boosted their confidence before Saturday’s clash with the Boks.
Even though the Boks have not lost to Scotland since 2010, winning six on the trot, Jantjies knows this weekend will be anything but easy, especially with the exciting Finn Russell expected to line up across from him in the hosts’ No 10 jersey.
“We’ve all seen what he is capable of in the last Test against the British & Irish Lions – I really think he made a difference and challenged us in a different way,” said Jantjies, who has scored 312 points in his international career, dating back to his Test debut against Australia in 2012.
“So yes, we’ve got a little bit of experience playing against him, but for us the focus will be on our own systems, working together as a group and making sure that we stop whatever is thrown at us. We looked at their past matches and last weekend's game, but also at the way we play and how we can improve, and I believe we're well prepared for Saturday.”
The last time the Boks faced Scotland was three years ago, on 17 November 2018, when Jantjies came off the bench to slot a late penalty goal that helped secure a 26-20 victory. Russell was at flyhalf on that day too, a seesaw battle that ended with both teams having scored two tries apiece.
“This is a different-looking Scotland team to the one we faced in 2018, although their management is very similar,” said Jantjies.
“They will challenge us differently to three years ago, with a bunch of younger players who will be full of energy, alongside a number of very experienced players, and playing against the world champions will be added motivation for them.
“What will they bring this weekend? We’ll see on Saturday, in the first 10 minutes or 15 minutes, how they want to play against us, and we’ll have to find solutions to that.
“But our focus will be on ourselves, as a group, and to look to improve in certain things we’ve identified, because there is always room for improvement and that is the biggest thing about this group – we just want to get better every single week.”
Jantjies said he is happy to be starting the game this weekend – his first since the first Test against Argentina in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship in August – but that he is committed to the team’s cause, instead of staking a claim for himself.
“I know it sounds like a cliche, but I’ve always said it – it's not about me as an individual, but rather about the team,” he said.
“Yes, there is a responsibility on me to lead the boys in terms of certain aspects of our game and execute and align in what we want to achieve and what we’ve been working on as a group.
“We have to focus on playing against Scotland this week and can’t look at the past, because this week will pose a number of different challenges.”
Although the fans would like to see the Boks play a more attacking brand of rugby, which may be aided by the expected cold and dry conditions in Edinburgh on Saturday, Jantjies said the Boks will stick to the tried and tested as they aim for their eighth win of the season.
“The way we play works for us as a group – it covers everything and if you look in detail, you’ll see there is still a big emphasis in looking for attacking opportunities as well,” he said.
“When that opportunity arises, we should take it and we should back ourselves to use it because that’s how we as a group want to play. Hopefully we will create few opportunities on Saturday.”
With Franco Mostert, Jesse Kriel and Frans Steyn all reaching special milestones this weekend – the first two their 50th Test caps and Steyn becoming the player with the longest Springbok career – Jantjies said all of them bring something special to the squad.
“It’s a big milestone for three brilliant rugby players, all of whom took different paths to where they are today,” he said.
“To have Frans in the squad, with his experience and the type of player he is, never shy to assist and part with knowledge, always willing to help, is great.
“Jesse brings massive work ethic and professionalism to the squad and it’s special to see what Franco has achieved – I’ve known him for years and he had worked very hard, so hopefully we can celebrate these milestones properly on Saturday.”
The match at Murrayfield kicks off at 15h00 (SA time) and will be broadcast live on SuperSport.