Potgieter happy playing abroad

2014-08-15 15:55
Jacques Potgieter (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Former Bulls loose forward Jacques Potgieter says he’s been able to take his game to the next level during his time in Australia and Japan, and hopes this will catch the attention of the national selectors.

While it wasn’t an outstanding Super Rugby season for the Sharks (beaten in the semi-finals), Bulls, Stormers, Lions and Cheetahs this season, there was a South African who celebrated a tournament winner’s medal.

Potgieter was part of the Waratahs team that beat the Crusaders 33-32 in the final in Sydney. The three-time capped Springbok showed outstanding form for the Australian team, making an impact as a loose forward and No 4 lock.

“My first season with the Waratahs was an amazing experience,” Potgieter told the MyPlayers website. “I got the offer to play for them after receiving a call from head coach Michael Cheika, who wanted me to be part of his squad.

“It was great to go over there and be part of a new team in a new country. On and off the field, it was a wonderful experience. The entire Waratahs squad has a close bond, so I was able to make many new friendships. Australians are very friendly, which allowed me to settle in easily.”

Potgieter will now play his second season in Japan for the Sanix Blues, and will leave to the Far East on Friday after enjoying a short break in South Africa. The 28-year-old credits his time in Japan for his recent improvement.

“The great thing about playing in Australia and Japan is the different cultures I get to experience. Both countries have different rugby philosophies, and this has allowed me to take my game to the next level,” he said.

“The amazing thing about Japan is that the clubs take great care of their foreign players. They don’t play you in every game. They manage you very well and select you for the games that really matter. After the Japanese season, I left to Australia feeling refreshed, which was a big reason why I was able to play my best rugby for the Waratahs.

"Rugby has become a popular sport in Japan, and it continues to grow. There are no fellow South Africans in my squad, but I spend some time with Dewald Potgieter whenever I can."

Potgieter will continue to play in Japan and Australia for the next two years, and hopes his impressive form will create a return to the Springbok squad in the near future.

“I still hope to play for the Springboks. That’s definitely still on the top of my list,” said Potgieter. “I’m a much better player after my experiences in Japan and Australia, so I can add value. I’m in the form of my life.”

The Springboks will face some of Potgieter’s Waratahs team-mates when they play against the Wallabies during the Rugby Championship. He believes Israel Folau and Will Skelton will be impact players for the Australians.
“Israel and Will have enjoyed great seasons during Super Rugby. They’re both amazing players,” explained Potgieter. “Israel is a naturally gifted fullback, who has the confidence to back himself. That confidence sees him try new things and he has all the skills to execute. From his acceleration to his strengths under the high ball, he’s the full package.

“Will was one of the breakthrough performers during Super Rugby. While he’s a big guy in size (Skelton stands at 2.03m and weighs 137kg), he was still a young boy at the start of the season. Under the mentorship of Michael Cheika, he quickly developed into a man and will be an important player for the Wallabies in future seasons.”

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