Waratahs lock Jacques Potgieter believes his game has progressed in Australia and he's playing the best rugby of his life, writes BRENTON CHELIN.
Having completed the transformation from Bulls outcast to Super Rugby champion in 12 short months, the long-haired lock has set his sights on a return to the Springbok fold. It's been two years since he last represented the Springboks, winning the last of his three caps during the Boks' dour 16-16 draw in Argentina during the 2012 Rugby Championship. Speaking to SARugbymag.co.za following his Super Rugby triumph, Potgieter shed some light on his Springbok aspirations.
'I want to put that green and gold jersey over my head again. I think I'm ready for it this time, something that I don't think I was when I played for the Springboks a while back.'
'I'm playing the best rugby of my career,' he added very matter-of-factly. 'That's all I can do, and all I can continue to do. Beyond that, I can't control anything else. There's a drive and a passion to be better every week and to convince them [the selectors] that I'm good enough. If I continue to improve and I continue to knock on the door, sooner or later they're going to have to answer.'
Utilised by the Bulls and the Boks as a human battering ram, Potgieter has been something of a revelation in Sydney since his switch to the Waratahs. He has played a majority of his rugby in the second row for the Tahs, where he has shown that there is more to his game than brute force. The development of his game was one of the driving forces behind his move to Australia.
'One of the reasons for coming to Australia in the beginning was to learn a new style of rugby, to play in a different game plan and I think that it's helped me to become a more complete player,' said Potgieter. 'It's been easy coming in here and working with this amazing bunch of guys. Guys like Ben Robinson, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau and Wycliff Palu are all experienced Australian internationals. From No 1 to 15, there's quality in every position.'
While Potgieter was quick to lavish the praise on his teammates, he reserved the highest of praise for his new coach.
'Michael has been a great leader and a great coach. He has made me a better player on the field and a better person off it. He has helped change my mindset and how I approach different situations. It would be so stupid of me to leave something that is this good. It's been a great experience to be a part of something like this, and I'm going to be here for another two years at least.'
Photo: Matt King/Getty Images