Cape Town - As recently as the 2018 Currie Cup season did burly centre, Tertius Kruger, turn out in the white and orange strip of the Cheetahs and on Friday he will proudly don the red and black jersey of the Southern Kings to face his former teammates in the PRO14 South African derby at the Nelson Mandela University’s Madibaz Stadium.
Kruger made his PRO14 debut for the Southern Kings shortly after the end of the Currie Cup, becoming one of the key figures in the side and also establishing a reputation as one of the bullish ball-carriers who is not shy of bashing his way through defences.
“The Cheetahs is where my professional rugby career began in 2015 and before that I played for the junior teams from 2012 to 2014. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to build the foundation for my career that I got at the Cheetahs,” Kruger reflected.
“The opportunity to play Guinness PRO14 rugby for the Southern Kings is one I could not let pass. It has been an amazing past few months with the team where I think I quickly adapted and am thoroughly enjoying it.”
The 25-year-old Kruger made his debut for the Kings in the side’s narrow 34-41 defeat to Welsh giants, Scarlets, last October as a second half substitute.
Since then he has earned a reputation as a strong runner who is always ready to take on the opposing defence.
“Running with the ball is one of my strong areas of play,” the beefy midfielder acknowledged.
“From a young age my dad always told me that as a centre my job is not to kick, so that has stuck with me since, and ball-carrying has become part of my own game.”
Kruger is likely to be one of the men Kings Head Coach, Deon Davids, will look to in the search for a second win of the season and to claim the bragging rights from the first derby of the 2018/19 PRO14 season between the two South African sides.
The fleet-footed midfielder is well-versed in the Cheetahs’ style of play and will be one of the former Free State side’s players (together with Sarel Pretorius and Tienie Burger) who will have inside knowledge of the abilities of the opposition this week.
The trio will be keen to square up against their old teammates, and so too will the Cheetahs trio of Malcolm Jaer, Junior Pokomela and Sintu Manjezi whose careers began at the Southern Kings.
“We will see what happens, but it will definitely be a tough game. When you come up against old mates it is always difficult because we know each other so well,” said Kruger.
“This is a very important game because the side that wins will get a boost on the log. There is no doubt that both teams will come out will all guns blazing.”
Davids will name his team to face Cheetahs on Thursday.
The match will kick-off at 19h00.