Adriaan Strauss may be done with test rugby, but he isn’t through with South African rugby just yet.
In fact, he has a burning desire to see the Bulls crowned Super Rugby champions.
Since the Springbok captain’s surprise announcement last week that he was retiring from international rugby at the end of the season, there has been speculation over his career.
The 30-year-old hooker can give his rugby pension a major boost if he plays overseas. In fact, many supporters assumed it was an attractive invitation from a European or Japanese team that was behind his unforeseen decision.
But Xander Janse van Rensburg, the Blue Bulls’ high-performance manager, said they were not surprised by Strauss’ announcement.
“Adriaan played open cards with us beforehand. He is contracted to the Bulls until October 2019 and he assured us that he would honour his contract.
“He plays an important role in the vision we have at Loftus Versfeld, to win the Super Rugby competition.”
The Blue Bulls have set themselves the goal of ensuring that they are the leading provincial team in the southern hemisphere by 2018.
Nollis Marais, the Bulls’ head coach, said Strauss assured him that Loftus would remain his rugby home and that he was hungry to achieve some major milestones with the team.
“We had a long discussion about it and Adriaan is totally committed to playing for the Bulls. He will definitely be my Super Rugby captain again next year.
Shortly before Strauss’ shock announcement, Marais said that the criticism being levelled at Strauss over the Boks’ poor performance was undeserved.
At Loftus, Strauss is seen as the perfect mentor for young, upcoming players such as Pierre Schoeman, RG Snyman, Jason Jenkins and Jannes Kirsten.
There has been a lot of renewal taking place since Marais took over as Super Rugby coach from Frans Ludeke.
Marais said he was satisfied with the progress the team was showing in set pieces.
The Bulls have – over the past few seasons – had sticking points where it comes to scrums, in particular.
The Springbok lock Lood de Jager will be reporting for duty in Pretoria at the end of the year and the Bulls are optimistic that they will be able to retain his services beyond the 2017 season.
All-rounder Jacques Potgieter will be ready for business, while the Pumas captain, Renaldo Bothma, will also be available for Super Rugby.
“I’m looking forward to Lood’s arrival. RG and Jason made do, but you need experience. I think in 2017, they’ll be close to being the best locks in the country.”
The plan is that Schoeman, Lizo Gqoboka, Jacobie Adriaanse and Springbok Trevor Nyakane will drop in the front row.
Aside from Adriaanse, other tight heads such as Martin Dreyer, Entienne Swanepoel and John-Roy Jenkinson will also be vying for a position.
“You have to accept the fact that you’re not going to contract a big name in this position. It’s a big scarcity in South African rugby.”
“There is enough talent here and I want them to show me who the best tight head is.”