Adriaan Strauss Photo: David Moir/Reuters

You could just sense he was holding back. But thankfully he won’t have to anymore.

If there was one person I really felt sorry for when the Springboks returned to Johannesburg on Monday morning from the UK after what was a disastrous tour up north, it was captain Adriaan Strauss.

He has been a superb Springbok over the years, a player who always gave his best in his 66 Tests and a man who wasn’t always credited for his contribution.

There were times when Bismarck du Plessis was around that I felt Strauss was a better hooker, but if not, then at least as good as Du Plessis.

Strauss was the only genuine option to lead the side when Allister Coetzee took over as national coach earlier this year and it was a job the hooker no doubt wanted. I mean, who wouldn’t want to captain the Boks?

But not in his wildest dreams (or nightmares) could he have imagined what would transpire in 2016?

That he would not only be at the helm of a side and management team that throughout the year was looking to find their feet, but also one that copped hiding after hiding.

The records no-one wants are now behind this team’s name and Strauss will go down as one of the worst Bok captains ever.

He doesn’t deserve it.

Strauss may not have been in the best of form in 2016 but then I hear he’s nursing several injuries and that it’s taken a number of bandages and injections to keep him going each week.

His body, according to some, is broken.

But if it wasn’t Strauss, then who else would have stood up and led the Boks?

Let’s be honest, now that we’ve seen what’s gone down, was there really any other option?

And through it all Strauss has remained dignified, respectful, approachable and professional.

It is no surprise Coetzee on Monday said of him: “No other captain other than Adriaan would have handled things like he did this year.

“The pressure, on and off the field, was enormous and he did the job.”

Indeed, I can think of many other captains - and even senior players - who would have shied away from the media and the public after the results the Boks have registered this year; but not Strauss. He fronted up every time and well done to him for that.

I get the feeling he is itching to have his say... and when he does the men that run the Boks and South African rugby had better listen.

Strauss is a smart man, he’s been around the block, played under several different coaches and in an array of different set-ups. He’s got plenty to offer and now as a former Bok, his voice must be heard.

He may not be remembered fondly in years to come, but if there are significant changes at the Boks and in SA Rugby and he’s played his part, then Strauss may just go down as the most influential Bok skipper yet.

Let’s hope so anyway.

The Star