South African rugby tends to be suspicious of veterans.
Just ask men like Victor Matfield, John Smit and Os du Randt.
When Adriaan Strauss was included in the Bulls’ starting line-up for the past weekend’s Super Rugby derby against the Stormers, he actually had something to prove.
Not to himself but to the broader rugby fraternity.
After all, at 32 going on 33, the former Springbok captain is the oldest member of the Bulls squad.
In a record 149th appearance in the tournament, Strauss silence all the critics.
He scored a hat-trick of tries, carried strongly and provided immense value through his sheer calmness on the field.
“You don’t just arrive at that milestone without showing toughness, endurance and perseverance,” said Bulls coach John Mitchell.
“I’m really happy for him.”
The New Zealander predominantly backs his young players as he aims to resurrect the underperforming side and previously showed no intention of using Strauss in more than an impact role.
Strauss hardly had a problem with that yet is simply too much of a professional not to have made his return to the starting XV count.
“He’s just such a great example to the young guys at this union,” said Mitchell.
“Adriaan is respected and has quietly gone about his business, waiting for his opportunity. Not at one point has he complained. He’s been very educational in terms of mentoring the young forwards.
“I’m just so pleased for him. So many experienced guys haven’t been rewarded with victories in games where they celebrated milestones.”