Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
30 May 2017
7:10 pm

Bye bye Juan de Jongh: A tale of frustration

Heinz Schenk

The Springbok and Stormers centre officially joined English club Wasps on Tuesday, bringing into focus a career of missed opportunities.

Juan de Jongh probably never reached the heights he should've in South Africa. Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images.

Juan de Jongh’s frustrating Springbok career is seemingly over.

English club Wasps as well as the Stormers confirmed on Tuesday that the 29-year-old will be leaving for the UK after the Super Rugby campaign.

Also read: More bad news for SA rugby as Cheslin Kolbe also leaves

Given that De Jongh has only been capped 19 times by the Boks, he won’t be able to play internationals again until at least 2019.

Overseas-based national players need to have played more than 30 times to continue being picked.

Not that De Jongh looked destined to add to his tally anytime soon.

The man from Paarl never really seemed to get a fair deal from the national selectors after bursting onto the scene in 2009.

His career has been defined by a spate of long-term injuries.

For example, De Jongh has just returned to the Super Rugby fray after a three-month absence due to a knee injury.

And then there have been the doubts over his size.

De Jongh only stands at 1.75m but has always been quite bulky at 88kg.

Perhaps aware of his physical limitations, he focused on punching above his weight in defence and, at his best, was actually one of the best midfield defenders in the country.

Of course, as Wasps mentioned in a statement, “he has a good eye for a gap and plenty of pace which makes him dangerous in attack, while he also has strong organisational skills in defence”.

That versatility wasn’t enough to convince any of his three Bok coaches – Peter de Villiers, Heyneke Meyer and Allister Coetzee – to entrust him with a long-term spot.

It also didn’t help that he was ignored when on song and picked when his form was indifferent.

With the Stormers boasting bigger and younger centres in Damian de Allende, Dan du Plessis and Dan Kriel, De Jongh’s move makes sense.

Wasps admitted they were also, in part, persuaded by former Springbok flanker Ashley Johnson to snap him up.

“Juan is a good friend of Ashley, whose opinion we respect highly. We feel he will fit into the squad really well next season,” said director of rugby Dai Young.

De Jongh will have out-of-favour Bok fullback Willie le Roux as a teammate.

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