Andries Strauss gets a pretty bum rap on this site and I am by no means blameless in this matter. But a few comments posted late yesterday really got me thinking. In an age where loyalty is supposedly dead, Strauss truly is a remarkable player.
The 25-year-old centre, an alumnus of Grey College like so many others, joined the Sharks at the beginning of the 2006 season, on the back of some encouraging performances for the Cheetahs at age-group and Currie Cup level. Dick Muir duly selected him as first choice inside centre and he went on to start in all but one of the Sharks Super 14 fixtures that year. The emergence of first Bradley Barritt and later Francois Steyn as world class 12s, though, reduced Strauss’s role to that of bit-part player and his Super Rugby appearances over the last few years have certainly been few and far between.
Last year, Strauss captained the Sharks XV side that went unbeaten through the league phase, before falling to a red-hot Griquas side in the semi-final. Griquas went on the beat the fancied Blue Bulls and take the title.
The point of this article, though, is not to try and talk Strauss into a better player than he clearly is. He has skills and he has weaknesses just like anybody else, but the one thing that for me is clear as day – Andries Strauss actually cares about the Sharks and always puts the team first. In this new era where players go where they’ll be paid most and threaten to leave the union the moment the coach drops them, old school values like loyalty and pride in the jersey seem to come a distant second. Maybe things in Durban wouldn’t seem quite as bleak right now if we had more players in the squad with the quiet work ethic of Andries Strauss, rather than the temperamental brilliance of Bismarck du Plessis.
There’s a lot of talk that the Sharks may lose some seriously big names after this season, with as many as 8 senior players looking to make their exit from the tank. Perhaps the green shoots of yet another Sharks revival may be found in those players who choose to stay and play for the team that they love – those who choose to serve the jersey and the fans, rather than chase the next ego-boost or a bigger pay cheque. Andries Strauss is sure to be one of the former and I look forward to a new generation of Sharks players taking a leaf out of his book.
I hope you have a great season, Straussie! The Sharks are crying out for leaders and it’s time to step up to the plate.Tweet