After scoring a memorable hat-trick at Newlands last week, Vodacom Western Province centre Sarel Potgieter expects more expansive rugby against the Lions on Saturday.
Potgieter has had few opportunities this season, but capitalised on his chance against the Valke when he scored three tries. With De Wet Barry away at the national camp for the remainder of the Absa Currie Cup, Potgieter is likely to enjoy an extended run in the No 13 jersey, with Corne Uys playing on his inside.
“It was great to score those tries, and it’s obviously something you never plan for,” he told keo.co.za. “We wanted to keep it tight in the early stages, as if you decide to play a loose game against a smaller union, it usually ends up as a scrappy free-for-all.
“When the game eventually opened up, I was pleased with the way I took my opportunities.”
Despite his limited game time, his partnership with Uys is an established one, as the two have played together in the Vodacom Cup.
“I think that we complement each other really well. I enjoy running off my inside man’s shoulder and having a bit more space, whereas Corne is a more physical player.
“I have played at flyhalf, but I think that outside centre suits my style of play.”
Potgieter’s skill and versatility can be attributed to his Sevens background. A number of players in the multi-talented WP backline boast Sevens experience, with Gio Aplon, Sireli Naqelevuki and Joe Pietersen all having played in the shortened version of the game.
Another youngster who has made the successful transition this season is Lions centre Jaco Pretorius, a former team-mate of Potgieter’s.
“I spoke to him earlier this week about this weekend’s game, and it should be a very interesting personal battle.
“The Lions are playing some brilliant rugby at the moment, but the pressure is still firmly on them to produce the win. If they lose on Saturday, they are effectively out of contention for a semi-final spot.”
While both teams have plenty of firepower in the backs, the tussle amongst the forwards will once again prove decisive. Potgieter pointed out the threat of the Lions loose forwards, who share a great understanding with their halfbacks.
“The ability of their back row to link well with the backs is what gives them a lot of their momentum.
“Andre Pretorius will also add something more to their attack, and he has some exciting runners on his outside. This game is going to be an absolute cracker.”
By Jon Cardinelli