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Jacques Potgieter fulfils wish linking with Waratahs in Super Rugby

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Jacques Potgieter aims to prove that he is a blue-blooded Waratah who is driven by the goal of helping NSW win their first Super Rugby title.

But on Tuesday, the 27-year-old South African forward who has signed with NSW for two years said he was still very much a Springbok as well. ''As a rugby player you always want to play for your country. You always want to play at the highest level you can. I still have that ambition,'' said Potgieter, whose career includes three Tests caps and 23 in Super Rugby.

Potgieter, who is 194 centimetres and 115 kilograms and joined NSW from the Fukuoka Sanix Blues in Japan where he played for a short stint after leaving the Bulls in South Africa last year, said he has not spoken to Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer since arriving in Sydney last month.

But with the South African Rugby Football Union's openness to consider overseas based players for Test selection - unlike Australian Rugby Union policy - Potgieter said he spoke with the Springbok coach ''before I went to Japan''.

''He said, 'Best of luck,' and 'Look after yourself'. I haven't spoken to him [since], but if you are playing good enough, they can't leave you out. [However], my focus is [on] settling in with the Waratahs and then doing my best for the team and then everything will look after that.''

Potgieter's Springbok goals should not concern Waratahs coach Michael Cheika, who signed him foremost as a second-rower and for his physicality, ball skills and athleticism. He just needs to him to ready fighting fit for NSW. And that is what Cheika hopes he will see on Friday night when Potgieter plays in the Waratahs' last trial against the Highlanders in Newcastle.


Potgieter said he has ''always wanted to play for the Waratahs, especially from last year - watching them play [with] the new style … a physical game and they swing the ball out wide. They [also] have good history.'' Cheika's in-your-face manner as a head coach has certainly not put off Potgieter. He is accustomed to old-school coaching in South Africa.

On Tuesday, he recalled pre-season training camps with his old Currie Cup team, the Eastern Province Kings - and not the Bulls, as Waratahs captain Dave Dennis thought last week - when the team would be woken up without warning at ''three or four in the morning'' for training. ''We used to train hard and unexpected hours just to [learn to] be ready,'' he said.

Potgieter is certainly ''ready'' for his first game for NSW after having completed his second successive training run with the Waratahs on Tuesday - since his arrival in Sydney, he bided his time to recover from a calf niggle.

''I'm feeling very good. I am up with [the game plans] and looking forward to it,'' he said.

While a known back-rower, Potgieter has no qualms about playing at lock either. ''I told Michael I am a team player, whatever he reckons is the best for the team I will play that position. I will be up for the challenge,'' he said.

''I will give it 100 per cent whether it is lock, whether it's No.8 or blindside, I'll play anywhere.''

Of course, Potgieter will still bring the trademark physicality of South African rugby to the Waratahs, even if he says it is not a trait of the Australian game.