Cape Town - Former Springbok captain Adriaan Strauss has given the strongest indication that he is set to return to international rugby after he confirmed he may reverse his decision if it was in the best interests of the national team.
Strauss retired at the end of 2016 when many thought he could still play on in the international arena. But his decision, brought on partly by a back injury that needed surgery and partly by the desire to let younger hookers like Malcolm Marx have a decent run in the Springbok jersey may well be rescinded if Rassie Erasmus looks to have the former captain back.
Already there have been reports that Erasmus has Strauss in his plans, and wants the hooker as a back-up to Marx, especially with Bongi Mbonambi still out and no real other contender at the moment for the back-up position.
According to SuperSport.com, Strauss, who admits he is enjoying his rugby at the moment with the Bulls and is in fine form, may well answer if Erasmus comes knocking.
"To be honest with you I am enjoying every single minute, I don’t know how long I am still going to play for, especially in the last few years you enjoy every single second that you get and I am just focussing on every training session I get and every game that I get to play. With the Highlanders this weekend there is not a lot of space for anything else to think about right now," he tried to sidestep the question when asked about it after a training session at Loftus Versfeld this week.
But when pressed on the matter, Strauss did admit that if he was wanted and could contribute, he would take the time to review his decision.
"It was a big decision and I took it very seriously and I took it seriously when I decided to retire at the end of that year. So, to come back is just as big a decision and it is something that you do just to do it.
"I want to contribute any way that I can and if it is possible it is definitely something to look at but to me it must be worth it. I must be able to contribute to SA Rugby and the team and I must be able to contribute. Like I said it wasn’t an easy decision to retire and it wouldn’t be an easy one to return, if I have the opportunity."
The Bok hooker has been enjoying the "twilight" of his career at the moment and is arguably in the best physical shape of his life, and it shows as he keeps on extending his record as the most-capped Super Rugby player and keeps on scoring tries.
"We've really been working hard, it started in the pre-season already and I’m enjoying rugby again, I can really play with a smile on my face. I’m enjoying the guys around me and next to me and I’m enjoying the game,” Strauss adds pointing to the six months he took off last year to overcome the back operation and focus on taking a break from the game.
"The most important thing was the break last year. I really had the opportunity to work on my body and spend a couple of months before the pre-season started here and had a pre-season. Dropped a couple of kilograms and after the back operation knew I had to lose a couple of kilograms to keep up and spare my back as well. That helped wonders and also the mental break from the game."
Asked about his try-scoring abilities - which included a hat-trick against the Stormers a few weeks back, Strauss laughs and writes it off to teamwork.
"It’s quite lucky, just at the right place at the right time and the forwards are really working hard. The maul is an area that we want to do better at and we want to fix and it is always something to work on but it is definitely improving."
But he does credit the Bulls preparation as part of his incredible return to form.
"I think preparation is key. It has been amazing, the pre-season was good and the vision was good. Everyone is working towards a goal and we knew it might take some time but everyone is hammering it out every single week, working hard to get there and also confidence. There is a lot of confidence in this squad at the moment."
Strauss may be an outside chance for the Bok back-up position at the moment, but in the form he is currently in, it is understandable that the Bok coach would be looking at him once again.
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