Bulls bank on fit Strauss for Super Rugby
Cape Town - Adriaan Strauss, who was recently named the Bulls’ most valuable senior player for 2016, is hoping to recover in time for next year’s Super Rugby competition.
Strauss went underwent a back operation in Pretoria on Thursday.
The 31-year-old captained the Springboks in 2016 but last Saturday’s Test against Wales was his last in the Green and Gold, after indicating earlier in the year that he would retire from international rugby at season’s end.
He is however still expected to lead the Bulls in Super Rugby next year, and the Pretoria franchise’s medical team is upbeat that he will recover in time for their first game.
Team doctor Herman Rossouw told Netwerk24 Strauss suffered from a pinched nerve in his lower back.
The Bulls will be banking on the fitness of their captain, especially after reserve hooker Bandise Maku announced his retirement earlier this week.
The other hookers in the Bulls squad - Jaco Visagie, Edgar Marutlulle, Corniel Els and Alandre van Rooyen - are relatively inexperienced at Super Rugby level so Strauss’ presence would be vital.
Strauss had a torrid season as Springbok skipper, with the national team losing eight of 12 Tests.
They suffered a record 57-15 defeat to New Zealand at home, lost at home to Ireland for the first time, lost away to Argentina and ended the year with three consecutive defeats in Europe - against England, Italy and Wales.
But Strauss was valuable to the Bulls’ cause, with the union last week naming him their Senior Player of the Year at an awards dinner in Pretoria.
The Bulls will in George for a pre-season camp next week.
As preparation for Super Rugby, they will face a South African team in Harare on January 28, 2017, as well as take on New Zealand’s Chiefs in Brisbane on February 8.
They start their Super Rugby campaign away to the Stormers in Cape Town on February 25, 2017.
BULLS SEASON AWARDS:
Blue Bulls SENIOR PLAYER OF THE YEAR MVP: Adriaan Strauss
Blue Bulls JUNIOR PLAYER OF THE YEAR MVP: RG Snyman
Blue Bulls COACH OF THE YEAR: Nollis Marais
Forward of the Year: Jannes Kirsten
Back of the Year: Travis Ismaiel
Player's Player of the Year: Lappies Labuschagne
Most Promising/Most Improved Player: Jamba Ulengo
Coaches' Recognition Award: Xander Janse van Rensburg
Currie Cup Premier Division
Forward of the Year: RG Snyman
Back of the Year: Burger Odendaal
Player's Player of the Year: RG Snyman
Most Promising/Improved Player: Ruan Steenkamp
Coaches' Recognition Award: Karin Visser
Currie Cup Qualifiers (Round 1)
Forward of the Year: Ruan Steenkamp
Back of the Year: Joshua Stander
Player's Player of the Year: Ruan Steenkamp
Most Promising/Improved Player: Ruben van Heerden
Coaches' Recognition Award: Abongile Nonkontwana
Forward of the Year: Marco van Staden
Back of the Year: Tinus de Beer
Player's Player of the Year: Marco van Staden
Most Promising/Improved Player: Abongile Nonkontwana
Coaches' Recognition Award: Njabulo Gumede
Forward of the Year: Gerhard Steenekamp
Back of the Year: Heino Bezuidenhout
Player's Player of the Year: Johan Grobbelaar
Most Promising/Improved Player: Ciaran Dayaram
Coaches' Recognition Award: Evan Booysen
A number of non-playing Awards were also handed out:
HIGH PERFORMANCE BB CO EMPLOYEE AWARD: Karin Visser
BB CO KOGGELBUL AWARD: Nqubeko Zulu
HIGH PERFORMANCE PLAYERS AWARD: Lance Lemmetjies
The sponsors also gave out some awards:
afgri most valuable player award: Arno Botha
Isuzu Tonnes of fun award: Pierre Schoeman
Puma Forever faster award: Jannes Kirsten
BBCO Employee of the year: Shanil Mangaroo