Rikus Pretorius (Gallo Images)
- Stormers centre Rikus Pretorius is relishing a potential duel against Frans Steyn when they face the Cheetahs.
- Steyn is a doubt for the match at Newlands but Pretorius wants to test himself against the Springbok great.
- Pretorius adds that he learnt a lot from Wales and British & Irish Lions centre Jamie Roberts earlier in the year.
Stormers centre Rikus Pretorius is relishing a potential duel with Springbok Frans Steyn when the Cheetahs visit Newlands on Saturday.
Steyn is struggling with a groin injury and was a late withdrawal from the Cheetahs’ match against the Sharks in Durban last weekend.
The Cheetahs are sweating over his availability for this weekend’s clash, but Pretorius is hoping the World Cup winner is fit.
“For me to play against Frans will be a big challenge. That’s the game you want to play because if you want to make the Springbok team you have to play against the best guys. So for me it would be a big challenge if he plays,” Pretorius told reporters during a virtual media briefing on Tuesday.
Pretorius, 21, attended Grey College in Bloemfontein and said Steyn, who matriculated 12 years before him, was his role model.
“He was also at Grey College so he has always been someone who I looked up to.”
The Cheetahs will make a call on Steyn’s availability later in the week but Stormers defence coach Norman Laker warned that the visitors would be dangerous even without Steyn.
“Obviously, he is a world class player. You don’t win two World Cups 12 years apart if you’re not a good rugby player. He brings a lot of experience and calmness to the Cheetahs team. But I wouldn’t say the Cheetahs are much weaker if he doesn’t play.
“They have very good reserves and guys that can fill into his position quite well. So I personally think they’re not weaker. They definitely have a good replacement in Chris Smit, who played at the weekend,” Laker said.
Pretorius, meanwhile, added that he was enjoying getting game time in the Stormers midfield and also heaped praise on centre partner Dan du Plessis.
“I really enjoy playing with Dan… he’s been in the system for long, he’s physical, he makes his tackles. What makes the combination so enjoyable is because he plays towards the ball. He can be a hard [ball] carrier but he can also throw it around with his skills.”
The former Junior Springbok’s extended run at No 12 has come after the departure of Wales centre Jamie Roberts, who left the Stormers during the coronavirus-enforced break.
Pretorius said he learnt a lot playing under Roberts earlier in the year.
“I wouldn’t say it was frustrating. I actually really enjoyed learning from someone who has played for the British & Irish Lions and 94 Tests for Wales. For me, it was just a privilege learning from him. It motivated me at training, to train harder against him to work for that No 12 jersey.”
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