JOHANNESBURG - Former Springbok captain Adriaan Strauss has not denied there is still a chance he might come out of international retirement, but it will have to be on one condition.
Strauss, who retired from international rugby two years ago, is unequivocal that his return to the national team will only be to contribute positively and not because of his sudden rich vein of form for the Bulls in Super Rugby.
This comes after weekend reports suggested that Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus was considering talking Strauss out of retirement to beef up the stocks at hooker.
“It was a big decision and I took it very seriously the day I said I was going to retire at the end of that year (2016)," said Strauss. "So to come back is also a big decision; it is not something you do for the sake of doing it.
"I want to contribute in any way that I can and if it is possible, then it is definitely something to look at. For me it must be worth it and I must be able to contribute to SA rugby and the team and it must be positive”
As much as Strauss finds it laughable that he is still considered as a possibility for the Springboks, he is not taking seriously suggestions that the Bulls have become title contenders overnight after three successive wins.
He has warned that it is meaningless until they can back it up with some silverware at the end of the season and that their focus must only be on the match against the Highlanders at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
“We can never get ahead of ourselves, we actually haven’t achieved anything. I’m happy about the wins... but it is in the past now and we’ve started working hard for the next one,” said Strauss.
“The Highlanders don’t go away ever and they play for the full 80 minutes. We expect a battle for longer than the 80 minutes and mentally we need to prepare well and we have to be smart physically to be ready for the weekend.”
The 33-year-old Strauss knows all about the art of patience, having rolled back the hands of time this season. He has not only produced performances worthy of a Springbok but is now the most capped South African player in Super Rugby with 150 appearances for the Bulls and Cheetahs.
Strauss believes the time and effort put into having a full Super Rugby pre-season and not having played in the Currie Cup last year have handed him a new lease on life and his rugby.
“We’ve really been working hard. It started in the pre-season already and I’m enjoying rugby again. I can play with a smile on my face and I’m enjoying the guys around and next to me and I enjoy the game,” he said.
“I think the most important part was the break last year. I had the opportunity to work on the body a bit.
"I dropped a couple of kilograms, especially after the back operation. I knew I had to lose a couple of kilos just to keep up and spare my back. I think that helped wonders, and also the mental break from the game.”
Whether Strauss returns to international rugby or not, it will matter little to Bulls coach John Mitchell and his team in the capital.
All they want is for their former leader to continue enjoying his rugby and the team winning until they can deliver the silverware Strauss deserves, even if it is in the twilight of his career.