Elton Jantjies has been sent home from the Springbok squad in Buenos Aires amid accusations of inappropriate behaviour as the world champions prepare for a decisive Rugby Championship match against Argentina.
According to an article in the Afrikaans weekly newspaper, Rapport, the 46-Test Springbok flyhalf allegedly spent a romantic and tumultuous night with the team dietician at a bed and breakfast in the week leading up to the Test against the All Blacks in Nelspruit in August.
It is unusual for players not to be lodged at the team hotel in the week of a match, and in this instance Jantjies was allegedly with Bok dietician Zeenat Simjee. Jantjies, 32, is married to Iva Ristic, the mother of his three children.
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According to the report, Jantjies and Simjee were spotted by a father and son from Pretoria who were booked into the room next door.
“(My son) told me it wasn’t Elton’s wife because he knows what she looks like,” the father told Rapport. “We have lost the last ounce of respect for Elton.”
The Pretoria man recorded “the sounds of pleasure” emanating from the room in the afternoon, but this was later replaced by a heated argument in the early hours of the following morning.
“It was terrible, terrible swearing and shouting,” said the Pretoria man. “I heard Elton plead at one stage: ‘Please, my baby. Please, my lovey’.”
Jantjies was allegedly confronted about the noise and he responded: “Do you know who I am?”
The Springbok flyhalf is also said to have left the following morning without paying and only settled his bill weeks later.
A Springbok press release on Sunday confirmed that Jantjies and Simjee were flying home: “The Springbok management are aware of reports regarding Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies and team dietician Zeenat Simjee … No team protocols were breached, but the individuals are returning to South Africa to attend to these personal reports and to eliminate any distractions to the team’s preparations for the Test against Argentina.”
This comes after Jantjies was arrested at OR Tambo International Airport in May on charges of malicious damage to property of an airline he had flown with from Dubai to Johannesburg. Jantjies reportedly damaged a light in the cabin while pounding his fists on a toilet door. The case against him was provisionally withdrawn.
Jantjies was then surprisingly chosen to make his season debut for the Boks against Wales at Loftus Versfeld in July after more than six months on the sidelines with an injury. After a diabolical first-half performance, he was substituted and South Africa recovered to win 32-29 on a last-gasp Damian Willemse penalty.
With Jantjies out of the squad, Willemse is highly likely to retain the No 10 jersey after an assured performance in the victory over the Wallabies in Sydney.
Beyond Willemse, the Springboks have a conundrum at flyhalf as Handre Pollard is still out injured. Veteran back Frans Steyn and fullback Willie le Roux could be called on as emergency options if needed.
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