Silent assassin Tecklenburg puts himself out to pasture
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.