The 27-year-old Cheetahs scrumhalf was on Wednesday again snubbed by the Boks after the national selectors did not include him as one of four scrumhalves in an enlarged squad.
Pretorius will now play for the Waratahs in 2012 and 2013 and this opens the door to a potential Test career with the Wallabies. The Waratahs are expected to make an official announcement about Pretorius’s move on Friday.
He is contracted with Griquas until the end of this year’s Currie Cup and may return to play for Free State in the same tournament in 2012 and 2013.
The Waratahs have contracted Pretorius as a replacement for Luke Burgess, who will join French club side Toulouse later this year.
Pretorius’s statistics this year – the number of times he was ale to beat the defensive line (13, six behind the best in the Super Rugby tournament), the number of times he off-loaded in contact (26, fourth) and try assists (seven, fourth) – must have made it an easy call for Waratahs coach Chris Hickey.
Something Hickey will want to pay attention to is the 49 tackles that Pretorius missed this year. It’s the most in the Super Rugby tournament.
The Waratahs were able to contract Pretorius as a senior overseas player after New Zealander Sosene Anesi decided to continue his career in Japan.
Anesi was also released during his time at the Waratahs to represent Waikato in the Kiwis’ NPC-series.
The Waratahs had apparently also sounded out Welsh scrumhalves Mike Phillips and Dwayne Peel, as well as Kiwi star Andy Ellis.
Pretorius’s nine tries places him at the top of the list of leading try-scorers alongside Bjorn Basson in the Super Rugby tournament.
He made his Super Rugby debut against the Western Force in 2009 and represented the Cheetahs in nine games in his debut season.
In the same year he played for the Royal XV in a match against the British and Irish Lions after being a member of the Emerging Boks team in 2008.
Pretorius’s decision is a huge setback for the Cheetahs, who have had their best season to date in Super Rugby.
The Cheetahs do not have great depth at scrumhalf and coach Naka Drotské hopes that young players such as Piet van Zyl and Pieter Rademan will step up in the Currie Cup.
Van Zyl has been injured for a long time this year and should be the experienced Tewis de Bruyn’s understudy for the Currie Cup. Tertius Carse is the other scrumhalf in Free State’s Currie Cup squad.
Rademan has just returned from Italy where he represented the South African under-20 side in the Junior World Championship.