Jurgen Visser grew up dreaming of playing for Western Province and hating the Blue Bulls, but he cannot wait to pull on the light blue jersey and tackle a couple of old friends at Newlands this weekend.
The young Blue Bulls fullback has made a bright start to his career as a Currie Cup player, with solid performances against the defending champion Sharks and the Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld last week but this weekend he faces a different prospect as he lines up against a few familiar faces.
Visser came through the ranks at Western Province, playing for the Under-21 team in 2009 and the Vodacom Cup team in 2010. He then made the big decision to head north, and he says that he has absolutely no regrets.
He explained: "I grew up hating the Blue Bulls as any young boy from the Cape would. But when I decided to make the move to Pretoria, obviously it was a huge mind-shift, but it was a decision that I knew was right for my career looking forward.
"I am just grateful for the opportunity that I got here and since I have been involved in the Blue Bulls system it has been great. I immediately got the impression that it is a family, you really get that vibe - all the guys have been really helpful and it has just been a helluva privilege to pull on the light blue jersey," said Visser.
The elusive fullback won the Varsity Cup with Maties in 2010 playing alongside current Western Province centre Johann Sadie, but the two players have a slightly longer history than that.
"Johann Sadie has been a great mate of mine since primary school, we both went to Paarl Gim and we were even housemates. So we know each other quite well and it is going to be a great challenge this weekend," he commented.
Sadie will join Visser at the Blue Bulls at the end of the Currie Cup, but before that the two have a date at Newlands this weekend and Visser says that he is looking forward to the challenge of squaring up to some old teammates.
He said: "I have to give a lot of thanks to the Western Province system for bringing me through the ranks. It is going to be a great challenge playing against some old mates and obviously Western Province because they are a great team, but we are looking forward to it as a team.
"They have definitely got a lot of talent and we are going to be up against it but I am looking forward to the challenge, it is going to be great. But it is not just about me playing against old mates it is about the team and I have got a job to do within that team," he added.
Visser says that although the Blue Bulls have been hit hard by injuries and Springbok call-ups, he believes the current squad have what it takes to be serious contenders in the Currie Cup.
"It is a great opportunity for us young guys coming through the system and it is an opportunity that we want to grab with both hands. I feel that we have got the quality in the team and every guy that is playing has the quality to go far in this competition but we are just taking it game for game at this stage," he said.
Visser has not always been a fullback, his conversion from flyhalf is something else the Blue Bulls can thank Western Province for, and although he is happy playing at the back he is not ruling out an eventual return to the playmaker role.
"I was a flyhalf all my life and then in 2009 in the Western Province Under-21 team I started playing a bit at fullback for the second round of the competition and then last year in the Vodacom Cup I played the whole year at fullback.
"It is different to flyhalf but it has been great, there is much more space and you have got more of a free role but I am not just a fullback - I would like to keep the door open to play flyhalf as well," he explained.
The young backline star is happy with the start to his Currie Cup career, but obviously also has his long-term sights set on greater things.
He said: "Obviously first of all it [playing in the Currie Cup] was a bit of a challenge, but it was something that I looked forward to a lot. I always believed that I was capable of playing in the competition, it wasn't as though I was scared or anything but I looked at it as a challenge and a huge privilege to play for the Blue Bulls.
"The Currie Cup is the first big provincial competition that you want to play in, but I believe that I have got the potential to play Super Rugby - I hope so. Hopefully I will get the opportunity at the Bulls because it is a great system and I would love to play for the Bulls in the Super 15," he added.
By Michael de Vries
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