Alvin Reeves [email protected]
PORT Elizabeth-born Jacques Potgieter will realise a lifelong dream when he makes his Springbok debut in front of friends and family on Saturday.
The 26-year-old flanker was one of three changes made to the South African team to face England in the third and final test at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Potgieter, who was schooled at Verkenner Primary and Daniel Pienaar in Uitenhage, replaces the injured Willem Alberts and is relishing the opportunity to help the Springboks record a 3-0 whitewash over England.
“It’s all happened so quickly. Last year, I was sitting in the stands when South Africa played the All Blacks,” Potgieter said.
“I remember thinking to myself how amazing it would be to play for the Boks. I didn’t really think it could happen and I’m so thankful for the opportunity.”
He said the thought of playing his first test at “home” had helped keep the nerves at bay.
“I’m not really feeling any pressure. I’m actually feeling quite good. I think if I was making my debut somewhere else, I might be feeling it. I guess I’ll have butterflies in the stomach when we sing the national anthem.”
Having played all his formative rugby in the Bay, Potgieter left the Eastern Province Kings last year to join the Bulls.
He impressed so in his debut season of Super Rugby that Bok coach Heyneke Meyer included him in the squad for the England series.
“It was very sad leaving Port Elizabeth because it’s an amazing place and the people are great here at the sea,” Potgieter said.
“I just wanted to play Super Rugby. I didn’t want to wait another year, and I think it worked out well for me,” he said.
He expects the Port Elizabeth crowd to be as supportive as they were for the All Blacks test in the city last year.
“Port Elizabeth doesn’t get much test rugby and the people here are hungry for top-level rugby. I’m sure they’ll lift the team on Saturday.”
Meyer said he was pleased for Potgieter and rated him highly.
“It’s always great to play your first cap in the area where you grew up,” he said.
Article source: http://www.peherald.com/news/article/6901