Veteran Springbok prop Gurthrö Steenkamp has announced his retirement from international rugby with immediate effect, putting an end to a 53-cap Test career for South Africa.
The South African Rugby Player of the Year in 2010, Steenkamp made his Test debut against Scotland in Edinburgh on 27 November 2004. He holds the record for the most Test tries as a prop (6) and has been on the winning side in 77 pecent of his Tests (41 victories), the best for any Springbok who has been capped more than 50 times.
Steenkamp, whose last Test appearance was in the victory over Italy in Padova last November, was a member of the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup winning squad in 2007 as well as the team that won the series over the British & Irish Lions in 2009. He also formed part of the highly-successful Bulls squad that won Super Rugby in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
"It's always a big blow to lose an experienced player such as Gurthro to retirement, but we respect his decision and I really appreciate it that he told me personally,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
"As one of only six props and 29 players overall to play in 50 Tests for South Africa, it's clear that he's played a huge role in the last decade of Springbok rugby. Props being named SA Rugby Player of the Year is something that doesn’t happen all that often.
"Gurthrö has won numerous titles at all levels of the game and he made a massive contribution to rugby in South Africa. He always put his body on the line for all teams he played for and it's been a privilege for me to have coached him."
The 33-year-old Steenkamp said in a statement issued on Friday evening: "I have been blessed with a great career in the Springbok jersey. It was a huge privilege and an honour to represent my country.
"I have come to realise that I have had an amazing career and that it’s now time for me to step down and allow the young guns to make their mark. I have reached a stage in my career where I have to focus on my future.
"I would like to thank the following people who have supported me through my international career.
"My wife Jana and kids who have always supported me even though at times it was hard to be away from home. She has been my rock.
"My parents, and my brother who have always been there from the start. I could not have asked for a better support system. The rest of my family and friends.
"Jake White for giving me the opportunity to make my debut for the Springboks in 2004 and to Heyneke Meyer for making it possible to play 50 test matches for the Springboks.
"The Blue Bull family in South Africa. So many fond memories will forever stay with me. The South African public who has always supported me and the Boks. What a passionate nation!
"I am also grateful to Stade Toulousain for making it possible to continue playing for the Springboks since making my move to Toulouse. I'm forever grateful for Guy Novès' support for my international career. Also to the Toulouse public who to have been giving me their full support. It’s now time for me to focus on my career at Stade Toulousain.
"Not forgetting a special thank you to the community of Paarl. Without you I would have not achieved what I have today and a special mention to my alma mater Paarl Boys’ High where my rugby was groomed and where this amazing journey began."