Cape Town - The possibility of a return to the Springbok set-up for Adriaan Strauss looks increasingly likely after coach Rassie Erasmus said on Tuesday that it would be "stupid" to ignore the 32-year-old.
Strauss, who was named Bok captain under Allister Coetzee in 2016, retired from international rugby at the end of that year after guiding the Boks to the worst ever season in their history as they limped to just four wins from 12.
This year, though, the hooker is playing like a man possessed and he has been in noticeably good form with the Bulls in Super Rugby.
While his lineout throwing is as accurate as ever, it is from open play where Strauss has been most impressive this year, scoring five tries in his last three starts.
His hat-trick in the Bulls' 33-23 win over the Stormers at Loftus got fans talking, and Strauss has since suggested that he would be open to a return to the national set-up if needed.
With Malcolm Marx undoubtedly the best hooker currently in the country, and possibly the world, Strauss would be able to re-enter the Bok scene without the pressures that weighed on him in 2016.
"Everybody is talking about Adriaan Strauss. The way he’s playing, it would be stupid to ignore him," Erasmus told media in Cape Town this week.
"Adriaan is playing well at the moment and I'm excited by him."
Erasmus has also talked to Bok veteran Bismarck du Plessis about a possible return to the national set-up, so he has a lot to consider before selecting his squad for a one-off Test against Wales in Washington on June 2.
There are, the coach says, numerous players who have put their hands up in Super Rugby this year.
"I’m excited about Aphiwe (Dyantyi) and I’m excited about Madosh (Tambwe)," he said of the two Lions speedsters.
"It’ll be interesting to see how Madosh handles going to New Zealand. If he handles that as well, then you can stay excited about him. If he’s good in the air and his defence is up to scratch, he is a wonderful attacker and finisher."
At flyhalf, Erasmus made special mention of Stormers youngster Damian Willemse.
"Damian has been excellent but he somewhere has to go through that pressure phase where he feels the pressure and expectations," said the coach.
"It’s going to happen somewhere.
"There are a lot of guys that I’m excited about. We’re excited now, but you know how form goes. We’re keeping track every week. I’m excited overall about the talent we have."
Erasmus is expected to announce a national squad of around 40 players ahead of the Wales Test. That squad will then be trimmed down as the Boks turn their attention to a three-Test series against England on home soil.