- Jason Jenkins wants to perform like a man on borrowed time in order to impress the national selectors before jetting off to Japan again.
- The 24-year-old Bulls lock, on a short-term loan from Toyota Verblitz, admits he came back to Loftus to remain on the Springbok radar.
- He delivered a fine performance last weekend against Griquas, mixing strength with athleticism.
On a lukewarm evening for the Bulls in general, Jason Jenkins delivered a Super Rugby Unlocked performance against Griquas that suggested he was a man on a mission.
The 24-year-old lock indeed needs to shine as much as possible in a very short space of time – he’s on a short-term loan from Toyota Verblitz.
“I only have about four games left here,” the one-cap Springbok said on Monday.
“I have to fly back to Japan around the 10th of November because I need to start training again after my mandatory two-week quarantine. So I’m here till our bye after the game against the Lions.”
Jenkins truly was a standout performer during last weekend’s 30-23 victory over the Peacock Blues, racking up 46 running metres from just five carries, making a clean break and beating two defenders.
The Bulls weren’t required to make many tackles on the night but he completed all four of his and made three turnovers too.
If anything, Jenkins – known for his robust way of playing – seemed like he really missed the physical nature of South African derbies.
Not that he underestimates the value of plying his trade in Land of the Rising Sun.
“Japanese rugby really isn’t as bad as it used to be about five or six years ago,” said Jenkins.
“They’ve really improved their structures a lot to create a world-class domestic league. For me, the rugby is a lot faster that side, a little less physical.
“I’ve had to adapt a bit because I’ve always been a bit bigger and heavier. So I’ve had to get around the park more but that’s only benefited me as a player, even since I’ve come back.”
Griquas certainly felt the full brunt of that potent combination of strength and athleticism.
Despite being fully invested in his Japanese gig, Jenkins most certainly will aim to use the rest of his stay at home to remind the national selectors that he’s still very much keen to be involved in next year’s series against the British and Irish Lions.
“It’s an easy question to answer: it’s every player’s dream to wear the Green-and-Gold,” he said.
“But I obviously have to work for it. It’s one of the things that I discussed with (Bulls director of rugby) Jake White when we arranged this deal. I wanted to come back for this stint to remain on the map so to speak. If you sit in Japan, you’re out of sight and out of mind. I’ll still have to perform.”
There wouldn’t be any objections from his Japanese employer should Jacques Nienaber and co come knocking.
“My contract does have a clause that I’m available for the Springboks. They’re quite lenient as they believe it’s a bonus to have an international player in their ranks.”
The Bulls’ next Super Rugby Unlocked assignment is on Friday evening against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
Kick-off is at 19:00.