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Ex-Springboks prop Adriaanse retires following cancer diagnosis

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Former Springboks tighthead Lourens Adriaanse has revealed he has played his last rugby match after explaining on Facebook TV that he is nearly halfway through his chemo following a cancer diagnosis. The 34-year-old played six times for his country, making a 2013 debut off the bench before coming back three years later to play on five more occasions and starting away to Australia and Wales.

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Prop Adriaanse initially made his way in the professional ranks at the Cheetahs and Griquas before hooking up with the Sharks and playing four Super Rugby seasons with them, including 2016 when he became a regular Springboks squad pick.

During that time at the Sharks, a fleeting spell with Montpellier in the Top 14 opened up his interest in playing abroad and Adriaanse went on to spend four seasons at Pau where he made 89 appearances before returning to the Sharks in mid-2021. His last game was in June 2022 as a starter in the Currie Cup game versus the Lions.

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In the six-minute retirement video on social media, an emotional Adriaanse explained his diagnosis and looked forward with confidence to a future outside of rugby once he is given the all-clear following his treatment.

He said: “About two months ago I was diagnosed with lymphoma which is lung cancer. It has been a tough few months. I have started my treatment and things have actually been going really well. I am close to halfway and have decided that I am going to stop playing rugby professionally.

“It has been a difficult decision but at the same time, I feel it has been a good process for me to put things in perspective, what is important for me and my family going forward. I’m 34 years old now and I have been really blessed to have a very good career. I would also like to thank the Cell C Sharks for their support in this process. It’s not easy to get to this point but at the same time, I’m also excited about what is ahead for me.

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“From next year I am going to do my articles in Stellenbosch for accounting… To everybody that has supported me throughout my career, I’d like to thank you. To be a player for over ten years doesn’t start the day you become a professional player, it starts the first time you pick up a ball and it’s probably more than 25-plus years,” continued Adriaanse, the former Springboks front-rower whose Test debut took place nine years ago away to France in Paris.

“It has been a long journey and it is good to go through this process now because I am leaving something behind that I really loved but at the same time I am looking forward to a new journey. At 34 years old I believe I have got a lot of years ahead of me in terms of life and to stop playing now is difficult but there will come a time for every person in the game of rugby where you stop and the next chapter is more important than what you have done.

“For the Sharks, especially my CEO Eduard Coetzee, for the support they have given me in the past few months, you will never be able to leave the game on your own terms but at the same time going into the next chapter I am actually excited.

“In terms of my treatment, I am almost halfway through getting chemo. Some days are tough, some days are not that tough. I am quite privileged that I have been responding quite well to treatment. I believe I am going to heal perfectly and I am going to have a good life.

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“Having cancer now in a situation where I have got great support from family and friends and my work here at the Sharks, I can really focus on getting better and that is the ultimate goal for me, to be healed. The big thing for me now living with the diagnosis of cancer is to not be fearful and not be afraid that my life has changed.

“It will get better, I have it now but I won’t have it forever. It was tough to go and tell all the players that I was going to stop playing but at the same time, it was a privilege that I was able to spend my last season here at the Sharks.

“To play rugby is a privilege, especially at this level. I’m still going to be a big supporter of the Sharks. It’s tough when you tell somebody you have got cancer that they feel the need to treat you differently but I still feel the same. That you for your support and I look forward to seeing you guys back in the field in the next few weeks.”

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