As regular readers would know, I’ve been particularly keen to track down two promising young Sharks players who seem to have disappeared off the scene in recent years. I’m proud to report that I’ve managed to track down one of them, young JC Strauss.
Johan Strauss was born in Johannesburg in 1986, the son of the former Bok and Transvaal prop of the same name. Strauss Senior represented the Boks in three test matches, twice against the touring 1976 All Blacks and then again against the South Americans in 1980. His son JC, a tighthead prop like his father, first came to prominence as a schoolboy at Durban’s Kearsney College. The 1.91m schoolboy anchor was widely regarded as the strongest prop around at the time – so much so that opposition coaches had to devise somewhat illegal strategies to counter him at the 2004 Craven Week.
Strauss won SA Schools colours in 2004 and was an automatic selection for the South African under 19 side the following year – the side which contested and won the inaugural IRB Under 19 World Cup in Durban. The young prop was one of four KZN representatives in that team, which was lead to the title by lock Alistair Hargreaves. Joe Snyman and a certain Francois Steyn were the other Sharks juniors in the team.
The youngster made a single appearance for the Sharks Currie Cup side in 2006, as a replacement against the Lions in the opening game of the season. It was, interestingly enough, the same game in which Ryan Kankowski made his senior debut for the province. Strauss made a few appearances for the Under 21 side after that and then mysteriously disappeared off the scene.
I’ve managed to find out what happened.
JC’s health took a turn for the worse just at the time that he was looking to break into the senior ranks – it later turned out that he had a latent heart condition, Bradycardia-Tachycardia Syndrome, which was exacerbated by the increased training load in the senior setup. Initially misdiagnosed as asthma, it took some time and frequent visits to various medical professionals before the young man finally received a sensible answer as to why his resting heart-rate was a staggering 28 beats per minute. Having been correctly diagnosed, JC had a pacemaker fitted in 2008 to regulate his heartbeat and after some initial teething difficulties, is finally well on the road to good health again.
At the moment, JC is helping his dad out with some property development work and is working hard to get back into shape. When it comes to his chances of playing competitive rugby again, medical opinion is divided as to whether that would be wise or not. Apparently, playing with a pacemaker is pretty risky as there’s a chance that the leads connecting the device to the heart muscles could become dislodged. JC Strauss isn’t really thinking too far ahead at this stage, though, as he’s just really pleased to have been given another chance at health.
I’d like to thank JC for taking the time to tell me his story. I’m sure you’ll all join me in wishing him all the best for whatever his future holds. Oh – and if I ever do manage to find out what happened to Conrad “the Animal” Stoltz, I’ll let you all know!Tweet