Stormers centre Juan de Jongh has learnt his trade over the past two seasons and is ready to step into the limelight as one of the Cape Town franchise's most dangerous attacking weapons.
The talented midfield star already boasts 10 Springbok Test caps and has been privileged enough to have Bok centre pairing Jean de Villiers and Jaque Fourie as his mentors.
"Playing with Jean and Jaque has been phenomenal and they have so much experience with the Springboks, so I keep learning as much as I can from them to help me in my career," De Jongh told this website.
The 23-year-old is expected to have more opportunities this season following Fourie's departure to Japan, and could forge a strong partnership with De Villiers.
"We're still fighting for places in the team but there is an opening at No.13 with Jaque in Japan, but there are a few youngsters knocking on the door," the modest centre explained.
"It's going to be a long year and hopefully I'll be given the chance to play outside Jean."
In 2010 De Jongh spent the entire Super Rugby season at inside centre while De Villiers was at Munster in Ireland, but the crafty midfielder isn't interested in specialisng at either 12 or 13 just yet.
"I enjoy playing in both positions and the more I play at 12 the better I get, but the more I play at 13 the more I enjoy that as well," he said.
De Jongh is fast becoming one of the senior members of the squad and is eager to be a team man and pass down what he has learnt to the new players coming through.
"The other guys coming through like JP du Plessis, Berton Klaasen and Michael van der Spuy are all improving and I understand that with 10 Test caps I also have a responsibility to help them and not only focus on myself, but rather be a team man," he said.
The major task for De Jongh and his teammates in the Stormers backline this season will be to replicate their outstanding defensive record from last year and add a more potent attacking force to increase the try tally.
"We've been training hard to get all the structures in place and the tries will come," De Jongh said confidently.
"We pride ourselves on defence so we'll build the wall of Cape Town again so no team can get through. Hopefully we can keep it up to the standard that we've set over the last few years and add a few more tries."
By Timmy Hancox
This interview was made possible by Castle Lager - 'It all comes together with a Castle'.
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