Waratahs fast-track Pretorius
Sydney - The Waratahs finished the 2011 Super Rugby season battered and bruised, but with the highest try-tally in the competition.
And with the addition of the competition's equal leading try-scorer, Sarel Pretorius, for 2012, the Waratahs have shown their hand early in their return to training this week.
The South African import and former Cheetahs scrumhalf arrived in Sydney last Friday and has spent only four days with his new team-mates, but has already made his intentions clear for 2012 by declaring he intends to run the ball.
''The last Super Rugby season at the Cheetahs we liked to throw the ball around, we liked running with the backs, and I see that at the Waratahs as well,'' Pretorius said.
''I enjoy South Africa and I was at the Cheetahs for three years and I think I needed a change, a new challenge in my life.
''I like watching the Waratahs play. I like their type of game, their running game. I thought it will be good for my rugby to come to the Waratahs to develop my game more.
''So to create for other players and have them run off (is what I'd like to do). I know Luke Burgess was a great attacker from the base and picking the right guys and I like that type of game plan.''
Burgess, who has signed for French Top 14 side Toulon, was a physical ball-runner who thrived on contact, but a significantly smaller Pretorius sees himself as more of a livewire around the ruck.
''I think (speed) is one of my strong points. The first 10 metres off the mark,'' he said.
''I just want to focus on my game, my strong points. I like attacking around the fringes and players running off me and creating for them so I think that's a big thing. And like I said, that first 10 metres, to explode. I want to keep on with that.''
Born in Bloemfontein and having started his love affair with rugby at age seven, Pretorius relocated to Gauteng to join Currie Cup side the Falcons after university and finished his third season at the Cheetahs this year.
He was part of the Springboks train-on squad for their World Cup campaign but missed the final 30-man squad. The 27-year-old has given up on any chance of fulfilling his childhood dream and wants to use his two years at the Waratahs to prove he is a world-class player.
''In South Africa, from when you are a little boy, you want to play for the Springboks. That's your ultimate dream,'' he said.
''But I think it wasn't meant to be for me. It just makes you a stronger person at the end of the day. I thought I had a good chance to be in the group. I went into the group of 51 but after that I didn't make it.
''At the end of the day, life must go on, so you must train harder and work harder.''
The former Sevens representative arrived in Australia with wife Nicola and said he is just as excited about the Waratahs' grunt up front as he is about the sunshine and beaches. He sent a clear message to a new-look forward pack that will be without veterans Phil Waugh and Al Baxter.
''The big thing for me in the past was that we struggled in the forwards (at the Cheetahs), so I would like to play behind a pack that's going forward all the time,'' said Pretorius.