Blog Banner

Pretorius proves to be a fascinating guest on Cardiff Blues Podcast

First Team News | 2nd June 2020

From growing up in South Africa to his unconventional route into professional rugby, and from his battles with Isaac Syndrome to his passion for understanding how a professional athlete his wired - Andries Pretorius proved to be a fascinating guest on the Cardiff Blues podcast.

The former Cardiff Blues back row joined Mike Brown to look back at his rugby career in Wales, as he went from a university forward to a fully-fledged Welsh international.

Having grown up in South Africa, and initially struggled to break into the Sharks academy, Pretorius was given an opportunity to join Hartpury College after meeting former Allan Lewis in his homeland.

Having impressed at the Gloucester-based college, Pretorius earned a deal with Wales’ Capital Region,  and the rest - as he says - is history.

The Welsh international explained: “On the Hartpury campus, I roomed next door to Loti Molitika, and as you probably notice from his name, his brother, Ma’ama, is the legend back row for Cardiff Blues.

“I’d met Ma’ama a couple of times, and we watched Cardiff as they were playing in the EDF Final against Gloucester, where Rushy and Benny Blair absolutely ripped them.

“TJ scored a couple, and it was a phenomenal game. It was a great time for the Cardiff Blues.

“But we actually played the curtain raiser for that game, in the Junior Vase with the university team.

“So I made sure that I gave my playing see CV to Loti, and it would go to Ma’ama and then Dai Young. And Dai, being Dai, flicked it to Gethin Watts, who was the head of the academy at the time.

“Gethin watched the game and I spoke to Dai after the game and from there the rest is history.

“I came over as an academy player first but by the December Dai had signed me for the next couple of years.

“I remember, the first game I watched as a Cardiff Blues player, I was sitting with Warby in the stands.

“I didn’t know him at the time and only realised much later that I was sat next to him but he was very much up-and-coming, and you also had Nugget who was in his prime, as well as Rushy, Andy Powell, Ma’ama and Robin Sowden Taylor.

“It was that era, but I arrived in my little Ford K.A., full with my life’s stuff and I parked at the Vale.

“I walked into the gym, and you have to be confident in these environments. You get sniffed out pretty quickly.

“I introduced myself in the gym, and said ‘Good morning, I’m Andries.’

“The first person I happened to see was Scott Morgan, the second row. He looked at me, with a dead straight face, and just said ‘No, you’re Dave.’

“Everybody laughed and somehow it stuck. For the first six months there I was just called Dave.

“Even on the rugby field, they’d shout ‘Dave, go long’ and I’d realise that there was nobody else outside of me. 

“Dave was the nickname that started it off!”

Pretorius grew up in the northern parts of South Africa, working as both a miner and electrician before moving to Durban.

Some of his early memories came from his time in the rural South African mountains, and it’s safe to say that it’s a completely different landscape to what you’d experience in Wales, especially when crossing paths with a wild mountain lion.

Pretorius added: “I know this will sound bonkers.

“First of all, a mountain lion is not a lion. They’re not the same thing. A mountain lion is probably the size of an Alsatian, while a lion is absolutely massive and bigger than a Great Dane.

“We used to go out and jump around the forest, because we were in a very mountainous region.

“If you saw a little cave, you’d chuck a stone in it to double check. We would do that hundreds of times, and nothing ever came out. 

“Low and behold, one day we chucked a stone and something kept moving and it came out.

“I must’ve been around 12 or 13 at the time, and you know what it’s like as a kid. A bit of hyperbole as a kid and it was about the mountain lion chasing us, was right behind us, nearly bit me and I was just able to kick it. 

“But in truth, we didn’t particularly get chased by the mountain lion, it was more of an encounter.

“In another situation, and South Africa has a lot of poverty and shanti towns, and being up in the mines, people would come to work for a short period of time and quite often those people would make shacks in the bush.

“I was 12 at the time, and still in primary school. I went into one of these little cave, and foraged around and found this jaw bone, which I thought belonged to a baboon. 

“So I took it to school and the biology teacher had a look and phoned the police. I had to take them up to show them where I found it and it was just someone who’d passed away 10 years before that.

“It sounds very far-fetched, and sounds very much like ‘CSI’, but over there it’s not quite like that, and it happened.”

You can listen to the full podcast below or on all major digital platforms, with recent episodes also including Nigel Walker and our debut Welsh language podcast with Jamie Roberts.