Heinrich Brüssow has announced his retirement from professional rugby with immediate effect.
The 33-year-old Saints and former South Africa flanker has made 21 appearances in Black, Green and Gold in just under two years, but has also endured a relentless string of injuries since arriving in Northampton.
Known around the world for his skill as a ruthless operator at the breakdown, Brüssow has shown glimpses of his star quality to the Franklin’s Gardens faithful, scoring four tries for Saints and passing on his expertise to a new generation of back rowers.
However, after being unable to shake off an unfortunate series of injuries in recent months, Brüssow insists now is the right time to hang up his boots once and for all.
“I feel very proud to have represented a Club like Saints which has such a rich history and the passionate support of Northampton behind them,” he said.
“I came to Northampton after spending a long time in Japan, looking for a new challenge and to push myself here in England. But I have been battling injuries for some time now and I have made the very difficult decision to call time on my career.
“I want to say thank you to all of Saints’ loyal supporters who have done nothing but offer encouragement during my time here. I wish I could have pulled on this famous jersey more often for them, but unfortunately injuries have prevented me from doing that.
“I also have to thank my teammates and all the medical staff at the Club for everything they have done for me, as well as my wife, my family and friends who have been by my side throughout my career – I am truly grateful.”
With 23 caps for the Springboks to his name, Brüssow initially put pen to paper on a deal to bring him to Northampton in January 2018 from Top League side NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes.
What a warrior.
A sad day at the Gardens, but also the chance to celebrate an outstanding career.
Saint #1987 | Springbok #801
Veels geluk, Heinz ??
— Northampton Saints ? (@SaintsRugby) October 23, 2019
The back row had spent five years in Japan with the Osaka-based side, after eight seasons playing Super Rugby in Bloemfontein with the Cheetahs. In total Brüssow racked up over 200 appearances in 11 years across the Currie Cup, Super Rugby and Top League competitions, scoring 39 tries.
His efforts with the Cheetahs saw him rewarded with his first international call-up in 2008 as he was picked by South Africa to play England at Twickenham, before playing in all three Tests against the British & Irish Lions the following year.
Brüssow also played every match for the Springboks at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and was selected for the Barbarians in 2014, before pulling on a South Africa jersey for the final time in 2015.
Saints director of rugby Chris Boyd said: “Heinrich is a great rugby player, a great man, and was a complete professional on and off the field. He played in an era of great openside flankers, and at his best he was at the very top of the class.
“The young loose forwards at Saints, especially Lewis Ludlam, have benefited greatly from him passing on his considerable knowledge to them.
“Heinrich has been to the top of the high-performance mountain and seen the view – unfortunately a succession of injuries have prevented him physically from climbing that mountain any longer.
“The frustration of not being able to consistently perform for himself and for Saints has prompted him to retire, but the decision not to let others down is a true mark of the man. He wants to be able to play at 100 per cent, or not at all.
“We all thank Heinz for his contribution to Northampton Saints, and wish him and his family all the best for their future.”
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