Pieter Muller says the likes of Neil Jenkins and Rob Howley played key roles in convincing him to make the move to Cardiff in 2000.
The South African international, who became a crowd favourite at the Welsh capital, was the latest guest on the Cardiff Blues Podcast.
On the recent episode, which is available on all major podcast platforms, the 33-times capped Springbok spoke about his fond memories at the Arms Park, his impressive international career and the power of rugby in South Africa.
Muller linked up with Wales and Cardiff duo, Jenkins and Howley, for the Barbarians in 2000, but revealed the influence of boyhood heroes such as Barry John and Gareth Edwards also made Wales an attractive prospect.
He said: “It happened in 2000, and the thanks goes to Neil Jenkins and Rob Howley. I was on the Barbarians tour with them and I remember chatting.
“They told me about Cardiff and the rugby in the city. I had offers from other clubs as well but I felt that Wales was a rugby country.
“In England at some of the clubs you’d just be another number and a small fish in a big pond. But I wanted the culture and that’s what attracted me to Cardiff.
“You talk about people like Barry John, JPR Williams and Gareth Edwards and those were people we looked up to - the players from that era.
“You had the Lions tours and those players were really good. The Five Nations was televised here in South Africa and you knew all the names.
“All that history made the choice a bit easier. I think most people don’t like the English so I had rather gone somewhere else!
“I had four years in Cardiff, and I must say it was brilliant from the start until the end.
“From the staff and players to the community, it was really great. I have some really fond memories from day one there.
“You had some characters in the team as well. You had boys like Rob Howley, Neil Jenkins, Spencer John, Gary Powell, Ryan Powell and there would always be an interesting story after a Saturday night!
“You still remember these guys because they were fun people. Boys like Dan Baugh and John Tait as well, and there were some good guys around.
“We keep in touch on Facebook. I saw Jenks and Rob during the Lions tour when they were out here [in 2009] and we try to make contact, and I’ve caught up with Craig Quinnell a couple of times when he’s been out here as well.”
Muller, who now resides back in his homeland in Cape Town, became a highly influential figure in the Blue and Blacks squad.
Two players who benefitted from playing either side of the experienced international were brothers Jamie and Nicky Robinson, who became established internationals of their own.
The former centre added: “It was never a leadership role for myself, but I did have experience which I could share with Jamie and Nicky.
“On the pitch, you try to give them another eye on the field but at the end of the day it was them who had to make the decision.
“With Jamie, we clicked well and he understood what my strengths were and how he could capitalise off that. It was the same with Nicky.
“There were so many talented players coming through. We’re talking about Jamie and Nicky. Jamie matured quicker than his brother, and Nicky might’ve taken a little a bit more time and had to go away in order to step up to the Premiership.
“Sometimes you have to do your apprenticeship in order to excel somewhere else. But Jamie took it from the start and we created a good platform for him to become an international player.
“That wasn’t me though. That was the team, the players around him and it was down to him because he was talented.”