Waratah Jacques Potgieter knocked back offer to return to Bulls in Pretoria

Staying with the Tahs … Jacques Potgieter celebrates scoring a try the Highlanders.Waratahs cult hero Jacques Potgieter rebuffed an approach to make an early defection back to his old South African franchise the Bulls this year.

The three-Test Springbok is under contract with the Waratahs until the end of next season but, according to South African sports site supersport杭州后花园.za, the Bulls were struck down with a bad case of seller’s remorse and tried to lure back the hulking second-rower halfway through the term of his Australian deal.

The 28-year-old told SuperSport he “missed South Africa but I have another year in Sydney to complete”, while his agent, Gert van der Merwe, said the Australian dollar’s relative power over the South African rand had made the Waratahs his home – for now.

“He certainly was looking to come back, but the deal he was offered was a good one, and it was hard to refuse,” Van der Merwe said.

Potgieter has proved a recruiting masterstroke for NSW coach Michael Cheika, injecting much-needed mongrel into the Waratahs’ pack and winning over jaded fans with his abrasive playing style. He was given his biggest send-off yet after the Waratahs’ 44-16 victory against the Highlanders, when a record Allianz Stadium crowd of about 24,500 treated the 194-centimetre, 115-kilogram loose forward to a rousing standing ovation.

The success of his first season here is all the more remarkable considering he was a regular bench-dweller in Pretoria under coach Frans Ludeke, not to mention the Waratahs’ poor success with South African imports Sarel Pretorius and Hendrik Roodt.

Traditionally a back-rower, Cheika has used Potgieter to great effect in the second row with Kane Douglas, where his ball carrying has helped bring out career-best form in players such as Douglas and Wycliff Palu. He has also helped blood super-sized youngster Will Skelton.

Douglas went as far as clarifying this week that although Cheika’s tough-love coaching had a role in the second-rower’s resurgence this season, it was mainly thanks to “Potsy”.

“He throws himself into everything and us three in the locks have been bouncing off each other,” Douglas said. “When you see big hits or big carries, them things are contagious. You see Jacques do something and you think ‘I want to do that as well’.”

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