JP looking forward to his 100th Super Rugby game

2014-03-18 00:00

SHOULD JP Pietersen come on to the field during the Sharks’ encounter against the Bulls in Pretoria this coming Saturday, it will be the 100th Super Rugby game for the 51-Test Springbok veteran.

The 27-year-old Pietersen made his Super Rugby debut for the Sharks in 2006 as a 19-year-old, and has been with the franchise through their best moments and lowest points.

“It’s always a special honour for any rugby player to play their 100th game. For me, playing my 100th game for the Sharks is special. They gave me the opportunity to play my first game, and they’ve been loyal to me and I’ve been loyal to them,” Pietersen told The Witness at King’s Park yesterday afternoon.

“I’ve got golden memories that I will treasure forever. As a player to play 100 games for the same union, that really makes me emotional, and I’ve been happy to represent them for so many games,” said Pietersen.

Fittingly, the game will be against the Bulls, who in 2007 snatched the Super 14 trophy from the Sharks’ grasp with a last minute Bryan Habana try at the Shark Tank. But, Pietersen didn’t want to dwell on that game, and instead was focusing on the season ahead.

“Let’s forget about 2007,” Pietersen said with a laugh. “We forgot about that. That’s in the past now. We’re trying to make new memories and we’re trying to make new history going forward,” he said.

Pietersen started the game against the Reds at King’s Park following the exclusion of Odwa Ndungane, who was on compassionate leave following a family bereavement. It was his first week back in Durban following his season with the Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan.

The Wild Knights won Japan’s Top League, beating Suntory Sungoliath in the final, and Pietersen, who enjoyed his experience in Japan, was happy to be back in [not so] sunny Durban.

“It’s good to come back to the Sharks. They’ve been playing good rugby and I’ve been watching them from Japan. They’re looking very good, and it wasn’t easy for me to just come in … Luckily I learnt very quickly, and Saturday went very well.”

What Pietersen took out of the experience of playing in Japan was skills based.

“They can pass very well, they can kick very well. I think that’s what I learnt … There are also some good coaches there, and that opened my eyes up a bit. I was playing Australian guys and guys from New Zealand. We learnt from each other,” he said.

With the Sharks now being coached by World Cup winning former Springbok coach Jake White, it made Pietersen’s reintroduction into the team that much easier.

“For me, it made it easier having played under him in 2007. I know what his ideas are, and what the feel of the game is for him. But, that was 2007 and we’re now in 2014, so it’s been a very long time. People are going forward and people improve.

“There’s a couple of different ideas Jake has now, but I’m still learning and I’m taking it day by day,” Pietersen told The Witness.

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