Hard work starts now - Pretorius
Andries Pretorius has vowed to heap pressure on British and Irish Lions pair Toby Faletau and Dan Lydiate for their Wales jerseys following his international debut.
The Cardiff Blues back-row is tipped to start Saturday's second Test for Wales against Japan in Tokyo. Pretorius, who can play either number eight or blindside flanker, impressed as a second-half replacement in last week's first Test, helping turn around Welsh fortunes to edge out Japan 22-18 in Osaka.
The 27-year-old said: "It was a very special moment to come on and win my first cap, especially having so many of my club team-mates around me to share it with. But my first cap is only the start. I've worked very hard to get here but now the really hard work starts."
He added: "For me it is now all about developing and staying in this squad when the British Lions boys are back. If I can put as much pressure as possible on Toby Faletau and Dan Lydiate for their places then my job is done because it's all about what is best for this team."
Pretorius also revealed how the third member of that all-Lions back-row, Cardiff team-mate Sam Warburton, took time out from preparations in Australia to text a good luck message ahead of last week's Test.
He said: "It just shows what a gentleman Sam is to be thinking of his team-mates in Japan, given everything he has got going on in Australia,"
Pretorius' appearance off the bench was the culmination of a remarkable journey that began in South Africa's High Veld before taking the trainee electrician to Durban, Gloucestershire's Hartpury College, Cardiff and finally international rugby in Osaka.
Born in Nelspruit, Pretorius missed out on a place in the Natal Sharks academy to future Springboks Ryan Kankowski and Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira, who was then playing number eight, before fortune put him in touch with Allan Lewis, then director of rugby at Hartpury College near Gloucester. It was to be a chance meeting that would change Pretorius' life.
Pretorius said: "Allan happened to be in Durban looking at the academy structure when he watched me train and, following a few conversations, I was offered a scholarship at Hartpury. I arrived in the UK on my 21st birthday, effectively with no qualifications or work experience. I was the first person in my family to go to university, let alone leave the country, so I knew it was do or die and I had to put everything into it."
Lewis, now the Welsh Rugby Union's national academy coaching manager, brought Pretorius to the attention of Cardiff Blues in 2009, and he qualified for Wales last December.Having already been appointed Blues captain, he was selected for this year's RBS 6 Nations. He did not feature, but has now got his chance.