Springbok captain Adriaan Strauss will retire from Test rugby at the end of the 2016 season.
Strauss, who became the 57th Bok captain against Ireland in June, said he had been contemplating retirement at the end of the season since late in 2015, and that he had informed Bok coach Allister Coetzee of his thinking on his appointment earlier this year.
'When coach Allister approached me to lead the team, I was both humbled and honoured,' Strauss said. 'The plan was for me to serve and lead a team in transition as well as I can and take things week by week, but back then I already told him that I was thinking of retiring at the end of the season.
'I’ve always accepted the pressure and the challenge of playing for and captaining the Springboks, I feel it’s the right time to let my teammates and our supporters know of the decision I made, with a greater plan in mind.'
Coetzee lauded Strauss for the role he is playing in empowering a new generation of Springbok players and developing a new team culture.
'I’ve known since day one that Adriaan was planning to retire at the end of 2016, but he is a vital component in our team and his role has been part of our succession planning in any case,' said Coetzee.
'He is a magnificent servant of the game in South Africa and doesn’t always get the credit he deserves. At a time when most players of his generation decided to move abroad, Adriaan chose to remain here, ploughing back into the game.
'Adriaan has captained the team with great courage in the past few months, often rallying the players on the field when real leadership was needed. He has also led by example during the week leading up to our Tests – none of which the public sees.
'I’ve come to know Adriaan as a player who only wants what is best for the team, so he will help the younger players and leaders come through the system, knowing they will need to get game time and exposure at Test level.'
Strauss said he had been stimulated by the challenge of being actively involved as captain at the start of a new era in Springbok rugby.
'I knew my role was going to extend beyond what happens on the field on a Saturday and that we were starting a building process of something special with a new group of players, many of whom will become Springbok greats,' he said.
'This is a young team and I’ve been honoured to work with a very talented group of players and leaders in establishing a new team culture. I believe the time is right to start giving more opportunities to this new generation and I’m happy to be used in any way the coach sees fit.
'It has never been about me. My point of view was always to do what is best for the team and I believe I’ve succeeded in making a contribution to the Springboks and South African rugby, which were two major reasons for me to retire.
'Every older player has this voice in the back of his head that he’d like to retire on his own terms, and I believe that is what I am doing.
'I’m very grateful for my Springbok career and to all coaches and teammates who have played a role in my development as a player and as a human being. The last few months have been especially enjoyable, as well as massively challenging. My decision to make it official is so that the coach and his management staff will have sufficient time to do their succession planning.
'The Springboks are lucky to have a massively passionate base of supporters, who are very critical of many aspects of the game. I would like to urge them to keep the faith and remain positive, because we’re on an exciting journey and this team will keep on working as hard as possible to make our supporters proud.'
Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images