Cornell Du Preez is leaving the door ajar for a Springbok call for a while longer but in the meantime, is focused on Edinburgh’s revival and a possible Scotland cap in three years.
The 22-year-old, signed by Alan Solomons for Murrayfield from his previous club the Southern Kings, impressed in his first start for the capital side, helping them to Saturday’s shock defeat of Munster and has set his stall out for Scotland honours.
The Port Elizabeth native has no Scottish antecedents but has signed a three-year contract with Edinburgh which, if he completes it, will cover the residency period to allow him to wear the dark blue shirt rather than the green of South Africa.
“The Heineken Cup was one of the big attractions to come to Edinburgh but international rugby was definitely one of the main reasons,” said the combative openside, who had an offer to join the Western Force in Australia but chose Edinburgh instead.
“I had a chance to stay in Super Rugby or try something new and I chose this,” he said.
“The chance to play international rugby was what brought me here, it was one of the main factors. Alan and (assistant coach) Omar Mouneimne had a big influence on it as well. They made the choice a bit easier.
“I guess you never know, if I do well here the Springboks might call,” he laughed. “But all I’m focused on at the moment is Edinburgh.”
The first taste of Heineken Cup rugby was just as he imagined it, he said.
“Playing all over Europe against teams with all of these international players was one of the reasons I came here and I always dreamt about playing in the Heineken Cup after watching it growing up in South Africa,” he added.
“It is a bit more technical than Super Rugby. It is a lot more physical, guys come straight at it. It is a bit more difficult technically, especially in the weather conditions as well.
“I know the systems well enough and it is easy for me to slot into any position in the back row. It will take a time to really know the guys but it is going well so far.”
Du Preez was greatly impressed by his skipper Greig Laidlaw his performance and the way he led the team to the Munster victory.
“Greig told us in the week before the game that nobody thought we could do it. We all said we would stick to each other and believe we were going to win. Belief is the thing that pulled us through.
“He is a very good leader. He performs week-in and week-out. He is a relaxed guy who never looks under pressure.”
Edinburgh now head for Perpignan, where Du Preez will be spared a meeting with the man in possession of a Scotland back row place, Al Strokosch.
The man of the match in Scotland’s last test against Italy in South Africa is being rested this weekend and will not play against his former club.
“I think it is possible to back up the win last Saturday,” he continued. “We want to show we are not just a one-hit wonder and can perform week-in and week-out.
“If we back our systems and stay composed we have a chance to win the game. Perpignan have a huge pack but we can get energy from them.”