Former Springbok lock Juandre Kruger says he preferred a return to Loftus Versfeld over earning a larger paycheck overseas.
The 34-year-old, who earned 17 Test caps between 2012 and 2013, has rejoined his former side in Pretoria after a six-year spell in France with Racing 92 and Toulon.
Speaking to Netwerk24, Kruger said that he is excited to be back home and among a talented group of players.
‘Loftus is a special place and it is a union that I have a lot of respect for,’ said the well-travelled veteran, who recently had a brief stint with the Scarlets in the PRO14.
‘I have played together and against many international players overseas and it is a privilege to share it with these players here.’
Kruger’s arrival will certainly be welcome relief for coach Pote Human and his management team, after the Vodacom Bulls lost the services of World Cup-winning locks Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks) and RG Snyman (Honda Heat) in the off-season.
Also departed from the union are Jason Jenkins (Canon Eagles), Jannes Kirsten (Exeter Chiefs) and Eli Snyman (Benetton Rugby). Eighthman Hanro Liebenberg, who filled in at lock when required, has also left the club to join Leicester Tigers in the English Premiership.
Kruger admits he could have earned a big income overseas but instead opted to return home for a different challenge, and help guide a youthful group of locks and new-look Bulls pack.
‘It’s not always about money. I decided early on to go overseas, where most players only do this later in their careers,’ added Kruger. ‘The time there was wonderful and then I got the chance at the Bulls.
‘I’m in a position where I have to make decisions in the lineouts, and on attack and defence. I like to share my experience. We all want the best for the team.’
The Bulls have also been boosted by the acquisition of former Lions captain and Scotland international, Josh Strauss. Following the departure of World Cup-winning eighthman Duane Vermeulen, Strauss will likely face competition for the No 8 jersey from Tim Agaba and talented youngster Muller Uys.
The Bulls are set to face the Lions in a pre-season friendly on 19 January at Super Hero Sunday, before opening their Vodacom Super Rugby campaign against the Sharks in Durban on 31 January.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images