“Juan was outstanding,” WP coach John Dobson said of his captain after a 43-19 bonus-point win against Griquas.
Standing out was De Jongh’s stated intention. The objective: to catch the eye of Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer before the 31-man World Cup squad is announced at the end of the month.
“There is no player in the country that doesn’t want to be in the World Cup squad. My heart is burning to be there,” the 14-Test Bok centre said last month, a fortnight after being omitted from Meyer’s 49-man group. “The only thing that’s going to get me there is playing some good rugby now.”
Two-try hero Seabelo Senatla was named man-of-the-match in Kimberley but, after today’s team review of the game, the explosive Sevens Springbok may decide to share his prize with De Jongh.
De Jongh was at the heart of five of the six tries scored by Province. It was De Jongh’s decoy run on an overs-line that flat-footed the Griquas defence for Nizaam Carr’s try. Then, the midfielder showed up in close support of prop Oli Kebble, jinking past one defender and wrenching his hands free to offload for Senatla’s first strike.
Midway through the second quarter, winger Dillyn Leyds ambled across the line courtesy of the chaos created in the Griquas ranks by a loose pass that was hacked downfield by De Jongh.
Province struck twice in the final 10 minutes – De Jongh quickly straightened to credit five points to Sikhumbuzo Notshe’s account, and the WP skipper then put the finishing touches on an unstructured attack launched from a turnover.
Since his Super Rugby debut in 2010, De Jongh has emerged as the one player consistently capable of straightening an attack that is renowned for crabbing across the field.
Jaco Taute was particularly guilty of this fault on Friday, squandering time and space by running laterally, and this only served to showcase De Jongh’s superior ability to fix or dissect the defensive line by attacking the ball.
A visit from the Cheetahs at Newlands on Saturday (kick-off 3pm) will present De Jongh with the chance to make it two incisive displays in a row.
Meyer’s team appears to be struggling for traction as the World Cup loom. Successive losses against Australia and New Zealand were compounded when South Africa succumbed to their first loss against Argentina.
No-one who took to King’s Park in the embarrassing defeat against the Pumas will be confident of their place in the Bok squad, and this represents a narrow window of opportunity for De Jongh. This year’s showpiece event in England may well be De Jongh’s last shot at the World Cup, and that’s why he’ll have his sights set on the bullseye when the Cheetahs take to Newlands. - Cape Times
Original source: De Jongh’s memo to Meyer