PRETORIA – It was inevitable that former Springbok captain Adriaan Strauss’ days as a rugby player were numbered.
Yesterday, Strauss announced his retirement from the game at the conclusion of the Super Rugby season to bring the curtain down on an illustrious career that spanned 14 years and has culminated in him becoming the most capped South African in Super Rugby.
The 32-year-old Strauss will end his career where it started in 2006, at the Bulls and it will likely be against the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld next month.
Strauss’ retirement comes two years after he ended his international career,.
After he missed out on playing Currie Cup rugby last year and struggled with a chronic back injury in the last few years, the writing was on the wall that the blond hooker was running out of steam.
“It hasn’t been an easy decision, but one I’ve been thinking about for a while now,” Strauss said in a statement on Tuesday.
“I have been blessed to play the game I love, with and against some amazing people, all while building some great friendships. The Bulls have always backed me and given me the opportunity to prove myself, and for this I am eternally grateful.”
He explained further: “It is, however, time for me to enter into the next phase of my life and focus on a few new ventures and of course enjoy being a supporter while I’m at it.”
While Strauss’ career may have started at the Bulls, it blossomed at the Cheetahs where he made 97 appearances and captained them to a famous play-off against the Brumbies in 2013 before returning back to Loftus where he has played a further 51 matches and also captained the side for two years in 2016 and last year.
“Adriaan is no doubt a legend of Loftus and rugby in this country in general and will be remembered for his never-say-die attitude. You don’t get to 156 caps unless you are made of something really special,” said Bulls High Performance manager Xander Janse van Rensburg.
The Bulls have also released former Junior Springbok and Blitzbokke loose forward Shaun Addendorff and SA ‘A’ flyhalf Francois Brummer at the end of the month to further their careers overseas.
Meanwhile, Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard will captain the Bulls in their Super Rugby encounter against the Sunwolves in Singapore on Saturday.
The injury ravaged Bulls left for Asia yesterday and wasted no time in starting with all of their returning Springboks including Embrose Papier at scrumhalf.
Springbok wing Jamba Ulengo makes his long awaited return from a career threatening knee injury and will start along with other injury returnees in loose forwards Hanro Liebenberg at number eight and giant flank Jannes Kirsten.
The injury crisis at prop has forced John Mitchell to select two debutants on the bench in Junior Springbok Simphiwe Matanzima and Morné Smith, while centre Dries Swanepoel makes the match-day team for the first time this season.
The Bulls still have a mathematical chance of making the play-offs provided they win all of their remaining games against the Sunwolves, Jaguares and Sharks while hoping the Stormers does them favours by beating the Jaguares and Sharks who are currently in second and third place in the SA conference.
Warrick Gelant, Jamba Ulengo, Jesse Kriel, Johnny Kotze, Divan Rossouw, Handre Pollard (captain), Embrose Papier, Hanro Liebenberg, Jannes Kirsten, Marco van Staden, RG Snyman, Jason Jenkins, Conraad van Vuuren, Jaco Visagie, Pierre Schoeman.
Bench: Edgar Marutlulle, Simphiwe Matanzima, Morné Smith, Thembelani Bholi, Nic de Jager, André Warner, Manie Libbok, Dries Swanepoel. Non-playing replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Lian du Toit.