Jacques Potgieter says Australian Super Rugby teams have a reputation in South Africa for shying away from the tough stuff, but the giant lock has vowed to live up to his billing as the Waratahs' hired muscle this season.

Coach Michael Cheika brought the former Bulls' hardman in with a brief to make NSW an intimidating force in 2014.

Potgieter has accepted the challenge and encouraged his rivals to "go and play tennis" if they're not prepared for a physical onslaught.

Growing up in South Africa's Eastern Province, Potgieter was born and bred on an aggressive style of rugby, often woken up in the middle of the night by coaches to take part in brutal training sessions at a moment's notice.

The 27-year-old, who will be unleashed for his NSW debut in Friday's final trial against the Highlanders in Newcastle, said he would bring to the Waratahs the South African mindset of going out to "stuff" your opponent up.

"South African teams just love to stuff up each other and that's just the nature of the game. We just go hard whatever we do," Potgieter said on Tuesday.

"Playing against the Australian sides is more technical. They don't like the contact that much but they play around us and through us.

"I like to throw my body around and, if you don't like the contact sport, go play tennis.

"In rugby, if you see a teammate smash a guy ... it lifts your energy and you want to go harder the next one.

"That's the way I play."

Potgieter, fresh from a season in Japan, has settled into lodgings in Sydney's Bellevue Hill, with a barbecue in place and his girlfriend due to join him soon from South Africa.

He's finding it hard to believe rugby isn't a religion in Sydney like it's in South Africa, but has already taken to calling rival code Aussie Rules "aerial ping pong".

Standing at 194cm and weighing 115kg, Potgieter's kamikaze presence on the field is what earned him three Springboks caps in 2012, however he's been criticised in some circles back home for being too one-dimensional.

But Potgieter says playing in Japan has improved the technical side of his game.

The Waratahs' last South African import, halfback Sarel Pretorius, didn't work out but Potgieter is confident he can use performances at the Waratahs as his ticket back to a Springboks jersey.

"Yes I do have ambitions. As a rugby player, you always want to play for your country and play at the highest level," he said.

"If you're playing well enough, they can't leave you out of the team."