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The Vodacom Bulls have named Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss as their captain for the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby season.
Strauss, who moved to Pretoria a year ago, with rumours abounding that he would take over the captaincy next year, beat out seasoned campaigners Lappies Labuschagne, Deon Stegmann and Arno Botha, and will lead a very young Bulls team into the new revamped Super Rugby competition.
Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard will be his vice-captain, with the 21 year old taking up the leadership responsibilities after previously having lead the SA under-20 team in the past.
Strauss was an easy fit for the captaincy, with 118 Super Rugby appearances behind his name and has captained the Toyota Cheetahs in the past as well.
According to coach Nollis Marais, it was an easy decision to make.
“Adriaan ticks all the boxes. He has vast experience at Super Rugby level, has played 54 tests for the Springboks, where he is part of the leadership group and represents what we stand for as Bulls. His leadership style is great, as is his ability to rally players around him. He is also one of the top hookers in world rugby and even opponents will look up to his presence on the field,” Marais explained.
“It is also very important for a coach to have a good working relationship with his captain and Adriaan and myselfshare a number of values, with the most important our shared vision to build a special team and leave a legacy,” Marais said.
Marais believes Pollard is also ready to take the step up.
“Handré is a natural leader of men and one that leads from the front. He is young in age, but already very experienced on the rugby field. He is also part of the new generation that is coming through at Loftus Versfeld and around we will be building the next generation of stars. Both Adriaan and Handré has the potential to captain the Springboks, so we can be very proud and humble about the fact that their leadership will be available to the Vodacom Bulls.”
Strauss said he was humbled when asked to lead the team.
“There were some brilliant captains in the past and I was lucky to be part of a special generation of Bulls players that won this competition in my early years. I have learned vaulable lessons about the team culture and when I returned last year, was very happy to see the work ethic and drive to be the best did not change. There are exciting times ahead for this group and I am very keen to be part of it. We want to be a team that makes a difference to our fans,” Strauss said.
The Bulls are already preparing for next season’s challenge and will welcome back several players from Japan in the new year to bolster their ranks.