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Time for De Jongh to step up

Thu, 25 Oct 2012 09:01
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It is about me standing up as that senior player without Jean there
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Juan de Jongh knows that he needs to step up and show some leadership against a polished Sharks midfield combination at Kings Park this weekend.

Having played alongside senior Springboks Jean de Villiers and Jaque Fourie for most of his career De Jongh will get the opportunity to show that he can take on some serious responsibility when he links up with rookie inside centre Damian de Allende.

"It is obviously a big game and with Jean [De Villiers] not being there it is important for me to step up as a senior player and help the youngsters with their game in the final.

"It is about me standing up as that senior player without Jean there. I know how it feels as a youngster when Jean helped me so now it is my turn to do that," he said.

That challenge will be made even greater by the fact that they will be facing the exciting duo of Tim Whitehead and Paul Jordaan. and De Jongh has plenty of respect for what both Sharks centres have to offer.

"I have known Timmy for a while now because he came from Province and I have trained with him and played with him in a few games so I know what to expect.

"In terms of Paul Jordaan he is a very good player with brilliant flair and he is a very quick guy so it is just important for me and Damian to work together as a combination," he said.

De Jongh believes that the key to success in such a pressurised environment will be to keep as calm and focused as possible, and said that playing for a Springbok place will be the furthest thing from his mind.

"This is a big occasion, to play a Currie Cup Final is the biggest game this year so it is not about playing for Springbok places, it is more important to help my team win.

"It is going to be a big game but we don't want to put too much pressure on ourselves and let the occasion be too big for us," he said.

The challenges that De Jongh will face on Saturday will go a long way to revealing whether he has what it takes to take responsibility as a senior player, so although most of the focus will be on his young centre partner it is perhaps De Jongh who has more to prove on the big stage this weekend.

By Michael de Vries

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