Adriaan Strauss has been confirmed as the new Springbok captain and it’s difficult to find a current player whose leadership skills and personality are more admired across the board in South African rugby.
The 30-year-old is one of those people for whom leadership comes naturally, even though he is softly-spoken and rarely demonstrative, a classic example of someone who leads from the front through actions, rather than words. He is currently doing a fine job as the captain of a young Bulls side, having previously led the Cheetahs, and has been a member of the Springbok leadership group for some time, having already played 55 Tests and been a vice-captain on several occasions.
Former Springbok eighthman Anton Leonard, who is working closely with Strauss as the Bulls’ forwards coach, is well-placed to speak about the hooker’s leadership skills, having led the Loftus Versfeld outfit himself to two Currie Cup crowns.
“Atta is a great person before he’s a rugby player and I have a lot of respect for him, a lot of players have a lot of respect for him as well. He’s not a big-talker, he’s more of a doer, but when he speaks, people listen. He’s done a tremendous job at the Bulls, especially with a young side, showing them the ropes of life and rugby. He’s personally earmarked and is growing some other leaders in the squad,” Leonard told Saturday Citizen.
There is little flashy about Springbok captain number 57 – although he is rather adept at stealing balls in the ruck – but he will be bringing technical excellence to his core role as a hooker and that is in solidifying the set-pieces. Leonard said these will be exciting times under the stocky Billy Bunter-like figure of Strauss, who did his schooling at Grey College in Bloemfontein like so many other Springboks.
“His appointment is very satisfying for us who work with him and I’m very glad for him. Firstly, he deserves to be the number one hooker, he’s number one in SuperRugby in that position if you look at the stats for the lineout. His hard work has paid off and he will bring fighting spirit to the Springboks in what is obviously going to be an exciting new era.
“He will have a lot of leaders around him, helping, respected guys like Warren Whiteley and the experienced Pat Lambie. But Atta’s strengths are that he is very good at summing up the game and he looks first at himself. He’s very humble and straightforward, every player knows where he stands with him. He handles pressure well, he shifts it on to himself and takes responsibility,” Leonard said.
Adriaan Strauss is living proof that not saying much does not mean you cannot have an amazing impact on those around you.
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