Johannesburg - After spending the last year in Bloemfontein with the Cheetahs, lock Wilhelm Steenkamp is happy to be back in Pretoria with the Bulls.
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He will be one of the contenders to fill the boots of recently retired Springbok legend Victor Matfield.
"It is great to be back here with the family, but I have to admit that I'm going to miss Bloem as well," said Steenkamp.
"They were very good to me there and it was great to learn from Springboks like Naka (Drotské) and Os (Du Randt)."
As a previous captain of the Emerging Springboks and Blue Bulls, Steenkamp's leadership skills were also utilised by the Cheetahs when they lost both Adriaan and Andries Strauss to injury in the Super Rugby competition.
One reason for his decision to move to the Free State for a year was that it allowed him more game time than he would have been getting while playing in Matfield's shadow.
Though the world renowned lineout specialist will make his final swansong this weekend for the Barbarians against Australia on Saturday, Steenkamp knew the locks at Loftus would still be able to bank on his knowledge.
"In this game you can never know enough and to learn from Victor, who is world class, is something every lock would love to do and is something I look forward to doing again."
Some of the skills already passed down from Matfield were of great assistance to the Cheetahs during both the Super Rugby and Currie Cup campaigns.
Steenkamp succeeded in disrupting the Bulls throw-ins while they had the master in their team.
On one occasion, Bulls management were outraged when footage of a lineout training session was broadcast prior to a match, allowing Steenkamp to pick up some of the calls.
"Lineout analysis is part of locks' job description and they put in a lot of work in that department at the Cheetahs, although I know that here at the Bulls even more time will be spent on that," said Steenkamp.
"With the way the game has changed, players know if they could be in control in one small facet of the game it would always be to their advantage."
The retirement of Matfield and the departure of Danie Rossouw and Bakkies Botha have left the Bulls with not having the world's best second-rowers in their squad.
Steenkamp was confident that he, and other contenders for the number five jersey, would not disappoint.
He also understood that his place in the team was not guaranteed, and that he would have to be at his best to be selected ahead of players like Juandre Kruger, Fudge Mabeta and a host of exciting new locks the Bulls had recently signed.
"Competition has never been a bad thing and we will just have to work hard during our pre-season training and make use of the chances we get on the field when the new season starts," Steenkamp said."