Cape Town - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer paid tribute to
Gurthrö Steenkamp after the veteran prop announced his retirement from
international rugby with immediate effect on Friday, putting an end to a 53-cap
Test career for South Africa.
The South African Rugby Player of the Year in
2010, Steenkamp made his Test debut against Scotland in Edinburgh on
November 27, 2004. He holds the record for the most Test tries as a prop (6) and
has been on the winning side in 77% of his Tests (41 victories), the best for
any Springbok who has been capped more than 50 times.
Steenkamp, whose last Test appearance was in
the victory over Italy in Padova last November, was a member of the Springboks’
Rugby World Cup winning squad in 2007 as well as the team that won the series
over the British & Irish Lions in 2009. He also formed part of the
highly-successful Vodacom Bulls squad that won Vodacom Super Rugby in 2007,
2009 and 2010.
“It's always a big blow to lose an experienced
player such as Gurthro to retirement, but we respect his decision and I really
appreciate it that he told me personally,” said Meyer.
“As one of only six props and 29 players
overall to play in 50 Tests for South Africa, it's clear that he's played a
huge role in the last decade of Springbok rugby. Props being named SA Rugby
Player of the Year is something that doesn’t happen all that often.
“Gurthrö has won numerous titles at all levels
of the game and he made a massive contribution to rugby in South Africa. He
always put his body on the line for all teams he played for and it's been a
privilege for me to have coached him.”
The 33-year-old Steenkamp said in a statement
issued on Friday evening: “I have been blessed with a great career in the
Springbok jersey. It was a huge privilege and an honour to represent my
“I have come to realise that I have had an
amazing career and that it’s now time for me to step down and allow the young
guns to make their mark. I have reached a stage in my career where I have to
focus on my future.
“I would like to thank the following people who
have supported me through my international career.
“My wife Jana and kids who have always
supported me even though at times it was hard to be away from home. She has
been my rock.
“My parents, and my brother who have always
been there from the start. I could not have asked for a better support system.
The rest of my family and friends.
“Jake White for giving me the opportunity to
make my debut for the Springboks in 2004 and to Heyneke Meyer for making it
possible to play 50 Test matches for the Springboks.
“The Blue Bull family in South Africa. So many
fond memories will forever stay with me. The South African public who has
always supported me and the Boks. What a passionate nation!
“I am also grateful to Stade Toulousain for
making it possible to continue playing for the Springboks since making my move
to Toulouse. I'm forever grateful for Guy Noves' support for my international
career. Also to the Toulouse public who to have been giving me their full
support. It’s now time for me to focus on my career at Stade Toulousain.
“Not forgetting a special thank you to the
community of Paarl. Without you I would have not achieved what I have today and
a special mention to my alma mater Paarl Boys’ High where my rugby was
groomed and where this amazing journey began.”