Ultimate Rugby's Rugby Championship Player of Round One

Ultimate Rugby's Rugby Championship Player of Round One

The Rugby Championship kicked off this past weekend with the Springboks and All Blacks each kicking their 2019 seasons off with victories over Australia and Argentina respectively.

The Springboks claimed a somewhat comfortable victory while the All Blacks scrapped past the Pumas in a tough affair in Buenos Aires.

There were a few standout performances in the opening round of the competition with the likes of Pieter-Steph du Toit, Lood de Jager, Francois Steyn, Michael Hooper and Nic White starring in Johannesburg while Pablo Matera, Nicholas Sanchez, Ardie Savea and Ben Smith were amongst the top performers in Argentina.

However, our player of the round could only go to one man who made enjoyed one of the greatest test debuts in Springbok history, Herschel Jantjies.

Jantjies joined a host of Springbok greats who managed to score on their test debut including the likes of Bryan Habana, Joost van der Westhuizen, Jacque Fourie and Danie Gerber, to name a few.

However, he does stand out from the rest as he is the first scrumhalf, from the Republic, to score two tries on his debut and the first Springbok to do so since 1937.

Rewind to 2018 and the 23-year-old scrumhalf made just one appearance for the Stormers and started just three games for Western Province during the Currie Cup. He did, however, catch a break during the 2019 Super Rugby season with regular Stormers scrumhalf Jano Vermaak missing most of the season through injury and he leapt at his opportunity and grabbed it with both hands and was one of the top Stormers' players throughout the season.

This prompted Rassie Erasmus to add him in his Rugby Championship squad and handed him a starting test debut against the Wallabies at the famed Ellis Park, and once again he did not disappoint.

Jantjies started the game like a seasoned professional in the no.9 jersey with an excellent box kick and continued in that fashion for a full 65 minutes.

He followed the play well to grab his first try of the game following some nice work between Andre Esterhuizen and Sbu Nkosi with the latter drawing the last defender to put the scrumhalf through.

He doubled up just before he left the field when he spotted a gap down the blindside after Dane Haylett-Petty joined the ruck.

Throughout the game Jantjies looked calm, collected and as if he truly belongs in the Green and Gold jersey. His passes to his namesake Elton Jantjies were crisp while his kicking game was on point throughout.

He defended well too, notably near the end of the first half as he made a crucial ankle tap on Isi Naisarani, forcing a knock on from the Wallaby no.8 just 5m from the Bok tryline.

All in all, it was a stellar start to what could be an outstanding test career.

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