The former Toyota Cheetahs skipper, Adriaan Strauss, has been appointed as the new captain for the Springbok rugby team.With the retirement of Jean de Villiers, Victor Matfield and Fourie du Preez after the 2015 Rugby World Cup, a void was left in the team.
Coach Allister Coetzee opted not to name a leader when he announced his first ever squad on Saturday 28 May, but indicated that a captain would be named in due course.
The former Cheetahs and Stormers eighth man, Duane Vermeulen, who plies his trade at Toulon in France, was thought to be the likely candidate for the job, however, Coetzee indicated that it is important for the captain to be a locally based player.
Coetzee said his decision to name the former darling of Free State rugby as the side’s skipper was an easy one.
“Adriaan’s leadership qualities are impressive and well-established and he has the respect of his teammates on and off the field,” he said.
“He enjoys the respect of all the players and he has always fulfilled a leadership role wherever he played, since coming through the junior national structures.
“Adriaan has shared the vice-captaincy role with Bismarck du Plessis for the Springboks and is also a former Toyota Cheetahs skipper and current Bulls captain.
“I have no doubt he will be successful in his role as Springbok captain, which is a huge responsibility,” added Coetzee. One of the most humble and genuine players around, Strauss said he considers himself very blessed to have been entrusted with the duties.
“I am incredibly humbled by this huge honour and also excited about the role. It is not everyone that gets the opportunity to lead the Springboks, so I consider myself very blessed indeed. I shall do my very best to justify the trust shown in me.
“I am also very fortunate that I will be able to lean on the assistance of a great leadership group within the squad. There’s a fantastic energy in the squad, but the hard work starts now.”
Strauss’s first task at hand will be to lead the Springboks on Saturday afternoon, 11 June, in the first of three tests against Ireland. The first test at Newlands in Cape Town kicks off at 17:00. – MORGAN PIEK