ANDRIES Pretorius has become the second former Hartpur College student to earn a place in Wales' Six Nations squad.
The former Hartpury captain joins Westbury-on-Severn's Alex Cuthbert for the forthcoming international matches against the home nations after qualifying on residency grounds.
Originally from South Africa, the backrower joined Cardiff Blues from Gloucester's academy in 2009 and became eligible for Wales on December 1 last year.
While studying sports coaching at Hartpury, Pretorius led the college to two successive British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) championships and skippered the Saturday side to consecutive promotions.
But the 27-year-old, whose wife is Welsh, says if it was not for his time in Gloucestershire then he would not have been given this chance to shine on the international stage.
"When I was playing for the under-21s back in Durban and playing club rugby I was given the contact details for Allan Lewis who is currently the youth coach for Wales," he said.
"At that time he was the director of rugby for Hartpury College and I sent him an email asking for an opportunity and said I'd prove myself.
"Fortunately I managed to meet him and I got the scholarship to Hartpury College and it all brewed from there.
"If you're serious about rugby, Hartpury is the only place to come and study. The rugby specific facilities are incredible, as is the standard of coaching.
"Some of my most memorable rugby achievements include playing for England Students against France and being a member of the Hartpury Squad that won the BUSA Championship at Twickenham, but the whole student experience was awesome." The Blues captain now considers Wales his home and has impressed since joining Cardiff.
Hartpury lecturer and Coney Hill coach Sean Lynn remembers Pretorius from his time at the college and said he was always destined to reach the top level.
"When I was playing, Andries was always there and you could always see he had something," said Lynn.
"It was quite interesting when he first came over because we had a trial match and I don't think I have ever seen a bloke make four tackles in a row like he did.
"It was plain to see straightaway that he had something and fair play to him with everything he has achieved.
"He is an athlete and he is very dedicated to what he wanted to do and he wasn't going to deviate from that.
"He came over here and set out what he wanted to do.
"I take my hat off to him because he has worked hard for it."