Pretorius set on Welsh debut

Fri, 04 Jan 2013 11:08
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South African-born Cardiff Blues captain Andries Pretorius is determined to make his Test debut for Wales this year.

South African-born Cardiff Blues captain Andries Pretorius is determined to make his Test debut for Wales this year.

The 27-year-old loose forward became eligible to play for Wales after completing the required three-year residency on December 1 and is eager to join the likes of countrymen Brad Barritt (England), Mouritz Botha (England), Hendre Fourie (England) and Richardt Strauss (Ireland), who have gone on to represent their adopted countries at the highest level.

While playing Test rugby remains his greatest goal, Pretorius insists his immediate focus is on the Blues.

"Every player wants to play at the highest level but you've got perform well in the blue to get into the red," Pretorius told the BBC.

"When I came over to the Blues form Gloucester three years ago I said I've got ambitions to play for Wales and that hasn't changed.

"But I also knew I had to perform well for the Blues to be even able to get anywhere. My main focus is playing well for the Blues.

"I did become eligible on December 1, but nothing's changed for me really.

"I've got one job to do and that's for the Blues and that's what my focus is on."

Pretorius joined the Cardiff club in 2009 and was handed the captaincy for the current season following the departure of New Zealand lock Paul Tito.

Pretorius has since carved out a reputation as one of the leading loose forwards in Europe and has been earmarked for a Welsh call-up by former Wales flank Martyn Williams.

"We've got unbelievable back row strength in Wales. But Andries is more than capable of getting into that squad," Williams said.

"He's probably on the radar of the Welsh management. We know how good he is at the Blues and, hopefully, if he stays injury free this year he'll have another big year."

Williams, who won 100 Test caps for Wales, also lauded Pretorius’ work ethic.

"He's an outstanding number eight and he's only going to get better and better.

"But he's also a forceful guy. He's one of the most dedicated players I've ever seen, so his standards off the field are as high as his standards on it.

"He's certainly someone for the younger players to follow."

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