Silent as­sas­sin Teck­len­burg puts him­self out to pas­ture

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - VATA NGOBENI

HE WAS one of the un­sung he­roes of the Lions’ re­vival in their march back to the top of do­mes­tic and Su­per Rugby, but flank War­wick Teck­len­burg,

walks away from the game know­ing he was at the heart of one of rugby’s true fairy­tale sto­ries.

The 30-year-old Teck­len­burg de­fied tra­di­tional rugby logic in South Africa by emerg­ing from the lit­tle known Up­lands High School in White River, Mpumalanga, to be­com­ing one of the most re­spected play­ers of his gen­er­a­tion.

He was never a flashy player nor did he seek to hog the ball in or­der to grab the head­lines, but the shy, tough-as-nails Teck­len­burg was a con­stant threat to the op­po­si­tion with his high work-rate off the ball and his con­fronta­tional stance at the break­down.

Hav­ing joined a host of play­ers from the Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria and the Blue Bulls in an ex­o­dus to Joburg to join the Lions in 2013, he quickly es­tab­lished him­self in a youth­ful and ex­plo­sive loose-trio with Spring­bok eighth­man War­ren White­ley. Within two years of his ar­rival at El­lis Park, he played a piv­otal role in their 2015 Cur­rie Cup tri­umph. In his 44 Su­per Rugby ap­pear­ances, Teck­len­burg fea­tured promi­nently for the Lions in their march to the fi­nal last year and his ex­ploits earned him a short-term con­tract for the past two sea­sons at Ja­panese club Ka­maishi Seawaves.

Teck­len­burg hangs up his boots with im­me­di­ate ef­fect and will pur­sue a ca­reer in farm­ing, which is part of his fam­ily busi­ness.

“It has al­ways been my dream to play pro­fes­sional rugby at the high­est level,” Teck­len­burg said in a state­ment yes­ter­day. “It has been an ab­so­lute plea­sure and priv­i­lege to play for the Lions and be part of such a great team and pro­fes­sional set-up.

“I owe a spe­cial debt of grat­i­tude to coach Jo­han Ack­er­man (sic) who gave me a chance and backed me when no one else did. I have many spe­cial me­mories of our achieve­ments as a team, from win­ning the Vo­da­com Cup in 2013 up un­til last years’ Vo­da­com Su­per Rugby fi­nal.

“It has al­ways been my in­ten­tion to join my fam­ily in the fam­ily farm­ing busi­ness after rugby. It has been a very dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to make but I feel the time is right for me to move on.”

The Lions have named a youth­ful and in­ex­pe­ri­enced squad to play the Bulls in a Su­per Rugby warm-up match in Harare on Satur­day, with many of their top play­ers and Spring­boks be­ing rested.

Last year’s fi­nal­ists will not play against any New Zealand sides this sea­son, un­til pos­si­bly the play-off stages of the com­pe­ti­tion. Their first game of Su­per Rugby is against the Chee­tahs in Bloem­fontein.

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