Heinrich Brussow Springbok

The wife former Springbok Heinrich Brussow will sing Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika ahead of Saturday’s Test in Bloemfontein. Photo: Archives

Boks who should have played LOTS MORE Test rugby: Brussow

In a continued series, we identify fetcher extraordinaire Heinrich Brussow as a player who should have played more for the Boks.

Heinrich Brussow Springbok

The wife former Springbok Heinrich Brussow will sing Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika ahead of Saturday’s Test in Bloemfontein. Photo: Archives

In a series reflecting on the careers of those Springboks who may have been unappreciated for what they could bring to a team, Heinrich Brussow – who earned just 23 caps for the Springboks – surely has to be regarded as one of the most dynamic, and yet underutilised, players to have ever donned the green and gold.


Weighing in it at only around 100kg, Brussow was underestimated by many during an era where big, bruising loose forwards were more often favoured by South African coaches.

Yet, Brussow – the dimunitive but hard-as-nails openside flank – was in a league of his own, with his ability to effect turnovers at the breakdown putting him in the class of a rare breed of world-class fetchers.

Brussow was a key performer in the 2009 series against the British & Irish Lions

Some of his best work was reserved for the famous British & Irish Lions series and Tri-Nations victories in 2009, while he notably never lost in any of his five Test starts against the All Blacks.

READ | Part 1: Boks who should have played MORE Test rugby: Brent Russell

At just 23 years old in 2009, he deservedly earned the SA Rugby Young Player of the Year award, and at that point looked destined for a long and illustrious Test career.

And although Brussow would play every match for the Springboks at the 2011 World Cup, his career was blighted by injuries, while at times he fell out of favour with coaches who didn’t see a place for his style of play.

After eight seasons playing in Bloemfontein with the Cheetahs, Brussow then spent five years in Japan, before moving to the Northampton Saints.

Unfortunately, he suffered a number of consecutive injuries after moving to the Premiership side and was ultimately forced to announce his ‘immediate retirement’ towards the end of 2019.

Nevertheless, Springbok No 801 will undoubtedly be remembered as a very ‘special one’.

Brent Russell was another underrated Springbok star

Russell falls into two categories that have regularly beset other South African players – 1: Size counting against him. 2: The versatility tag.

Before a rather recent shift in perspectives towards diminutive players such as Cheslin Kolbe, Russell was one of those smaller players who battled to find consistent backing at Test level. Of the 23 Test caps earned by the former pocket rocket, he only started in seven matches.

Russell also has the unique distinction of having played in every position in the backline. He made his debut as a replacement flyhalf, while he would make seven appearances at fullback, nine on the wing, and two at centre.

In 2004, the versatile back even came on as a substitute scrumhalf in the latter stages of a Test against Wales in Cardiff in November 2004.

All that aside, Russel was one of the most electrifying players in the international arena, with his pace, stepping ability and natural attacking strengths setting him apart in the era from the early to mid-2000s.


Check out all Russell’s Springbok stats and facts HERE