Kruger targets further improvement
June 29, 2010
Former Northampton lock Juandre Kruger is keen to impress on his return to the Bulls © Getty Images
Former Northampton lock Juandre Kruger is determined to use his Premiership experience to propel him to greater things on his return to the Blue Bulls in South Africa.
The 24-year-old brought the curtain down on a successful two-year stint with the Saints at the end of last season having opted for a switch to English rugby's top flight when offered limited opportunities during his previous spell in Pretoria.
Reflecting on his time in the United Kingdom the athletic second row was full of praise for the Saints - insisting that the entire experience had helped him improve both on and off the pitch. "My time at the Saints was awesome," he said. "I was able to play in all the European competitions and my lock partners were all international calibre. I played alongside [Carlos Ignacio Fernández] Lobbe a lot and learnt so much - not only as a player, but as a person as well.
"A lot of forwards who go overseas learn a lot and they come back better forwards. At Northampton we were lucky to have a very strong pack of forwards - a real dominant pack, like the Bulls."
Highly rated by coaches in England, Kruger insists he has returned to Loftus Versfeld to prove just what he is capable of and has already been touted as the natural successor to Bull legend Victor Matfield.
"It's an exciting time and I've got a new challenge which lies ahead of me now," he explained. "I've come back to play for the Bulls, they're a great side. I want to be challenging for Currie Cup and Super 14 titles and prove myself on that level after learning so much overseas.
"I'm looking forward to playing a substantial role for the Bulls and help to make sure we keep the trophy in Pretoria. I had a taste (of Currie Cup rugby) in 2008 but the Sharks took it so I'd really like to win it. The majority of the Bulls have already won it so for me it's very important we keep winning - (I want to) be a part of a winning culture."
Kruger prides himself on his work at the lineout, an area he dominated in the Premiership, and offers a team both a high workrate and a powerful ball carrier. Not that he is satisfied with his game - the former Paul Roos pupil says he is determined to continue to improve with the Bulls and, after making the decision to return to South Africa rather than seek UK citizenship, admits the dream of one day representing the mighty Springboks still burns strongly inside of him.
"I believe I can just keep developing as a player now with the Bulls and for me that is a hugely exciting part of my move as well. Obviously I've got personal goals as well. Like any professional rugby player I want to play international rugby in the future as well."
Firdose Moonda looks at the moves towards greater integration within South African rugby ... and what the future holds
Martin Gillingham looks ahead to what he believes is the most remarkable ever climax to the league phase of the Top 14
With just two rounds left in the regular season, we look at the prospects of the teams taking part in the Championship play-offs
Joe Simpson talks to Charlie Morgan about loss, Wasps and being England's game-breaker