Leaving Cape 'made me a Bok'
JJ Engelbrecht (Getty Images)
Durban - Centre JJ Engelbrecht believes he wouldn't have made the Springbok side had he continued playing his rugby in the Cape.
Engelbrecht will make his run-on debut for the Boks against Italy at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday after coming on as a replacement against Argentina at Newlands last year.
The 24-year-old first made his mark for Western Province as a wing, where he was one of their stars in the Currie Cup in 2011, but moved north to Pretoria at the end of that season.
"One will never know, but I think I would probably not have made the Bok side because I would still be playing wing there.
"At WP I struggled to get game-time whereas at the Bulls I got a lot of game-time at 13 and was able to improve myself," he said when asked if he thought he would have made the Bok side had he stayed in the Cape.
Engelbrecht, who now has 27 Super Rugby caps under his belt, had to compete with wingers of the calibre of Bryan Habana, Gio Aplon and Gerhard van den Heever for a place in the Stormers side.
He believes his move to outside centre at the Bulls has also done wonders for his career.
"I have just worked hard at training and gone out and tried to enjoy myself. I think I have also found my best position now at outside centre.
"I enjoy being closer to the action and getting involved more. Having played at 13 for the whole season makes defence come a bit more naturally to me.
"Initially when I moved to 13 I struggled with my defence a bit, but I have worked really hard on this aspect of my play.
"I am also keen to test my pace at a higher level and just try to go out as fast as possible," he said.