- The Cheetahs did their homework before offering former Springbok flanker Jacques Potgieter a contract.
- Head coach Hawies Fourie noted that the 34-year-old's nomadic existence over the past few years meant he had to be sure of the player's commitment to the cause.
- Potgieter's experience will be valuable as the Cheetahs attempt to bring a trio of talented loose forward through their system.
A month of due diligence has convinced the Cheetahs to hand Jacques Potgieter a rugby lifeline.
Hawies Fourie, head coach, on Thursday confirmed that the central franchise had reached an agreement "in principle" for the former Springbok flanker to make Bloemfontein his professional home for the next year.
An official announcement is expected on Friday.
"His agent and I will conclude the final details of his contract," he said, ahead of the Cheetahs' opening match of the preparation series against the Stormers at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
"In principle, Jacques accepted our offer earlier this week and he will be contracted by the Cheetahs as of 1 March."
It's a move that's bound to have tongues wagging given that the 34-year-old flanker has been one of the more polarising players in the local game this past decade.
A three-Test Springbok career ended up doing little for him in raising his profile, with some observers criticising his perceived one-dimensional way of playing.
But a brilliant season with the Waratahs in their title-winning Super Rugby campaign in 2014 suggested there was far more strings to Potgieter's bow than many were willing to concede.
It proved a false dawn as his career in Australia fell flat and his return to South Africa to play for the Sharks - who he never got a game with - and the Bulls was characterised by indifferent form.
An early release from a two-year deal with French giants Toulon in 2019 saw him languishing in no-man's land.
Potgieter, nicknamed 'Jackpot', has since then been scouting for a gig and managed to convince the Cheetahs, freshly dumped out of PRO Rugby, to give him a trial.
Yet it's no surprise Fourie noted that he and the rest of the team management needed to make sure that the nomadic Potgieter is truly committed.
"We wanted to ensure Jacques is here for the right reasons and that he'll be fit enough to play for us. He is in good physical condition, but his fitness wasn’t quite where it had to be because he hasn’t played rugby at a high level in three years," said the Cheetahs mentor.
"We took our time to make sure of this and I am now confident of these two aspects now, and that is why he's getting a contract."
Whether his on-field impact is immediate remains to be seen, but his presence bolsters the experience within the Free Staters' ranks, especially with Ruan Pienaar and Frans Steyn also soldiering on.
"Jacques has won the Super Rugby with the Waratahs, he played for the Bulls, Sharks and Springboks. He has a lot of experience. It’s always good to have players who have played elsewhere and bring the experience to us and share it with the younger players such as George Cronje, Marcell Muller and Gideon van Wyk, who are all training with us," said Fourie.
"They can learn from the experienced players such as Jacques and, as a result, their game will improve a lot quicker. A part of our strategy is to have these youngsters learning from senior players, and this will allow us to promote them to the senior squad."
Kick-off in Cape Town is at 17:15 on Saturday.
15 Tristan Leyds, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Cornel Smit, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Kade Wolhurter, 9 Godlen Masimla, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ben-Jason Dixon, 6 Marcel Theunissen, 5 Chris van Zyl (captain), 4 David Meihuizen, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Ali Vermaak
Substitutes: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Sazi Sandi, 19 Johan du Toit, 20 Ernst van Rhyn, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Abner van Reenen, 23 Mnombo Zwelendaba
15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Duncan Saal, 13 Chris Smit, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Reinhardt Fortuin, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Jeandre Rudolph, 7 George Cronje, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Rynier Bernardo, 4 Carl Wegner (captain), 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Wilmar Arnoldi, 1 Schalk Ferreira
Substitutes: 16 Marnus van der Merwe, 17 Conraad van Vuuren, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 Victor Sekekete, 20 Aidon Davis, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Dries Swanepoel, 23 Rhyno Smith