In the end it was a rather tame finish to the career of former South Africa international Pierre Spies, which his critics might suggest is in keeping with his reputation on the field.

The loose-forward achieved much for the Bulls and Springboks especially, but may also be left with a sense of what might have been were it not for untimely injuries and accusations that he was not physical enough on the field of play that followed him through his career.

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Spies was released by French Top 14 side Montpellier in May and this past weekend called time on his career, despite suggesting there were opportunities for him to continue playing.

At the age of 32, he has bowed out sooner than many of his contemporaries, and perhaps with the feeling that he should have won more than his 53 caps for the Boks.

But it is clear that Spies, a devout Christian, has plans away from the game and given his injury record of the past few years, has made the sensible decision to build a career away from the game.

The muscular loose-forward always looked at the peak of his physical powers, yet often succumbed to injuries that would diminish his legacy.

He was selected for the South Africa squad that was to compete at the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France, only to have to drop out when it was discovered that he had blood clots on his lungs.

At one point it was feared that the condition would mean he would never play again, but once on medication to thin his blood, he was able to return to the playing field.

Pierre Spies runs with the ball fr the Springboks during the 2006 Tri-Nations test match against New Zealand at Royal Bafokeng Stadium on 2 September, 2006. Ross Land/Getty Images

Of course, that episode meant that he missed out on making a major slice of history with the Boks, who went on to lift the World Cup that year in Spies’ absence.

The highlights of his time in a Bok jersey were certainly the 2009 Tri-Nations and the British & Irish Lions tour of that same year, both of which were won by South Africa.

He appeared to thrive under coach Pieter de Villiers, and even made an appearance on the wing in the final test of the Lions series — a sign of his ability with ball in hand and fantastic pace for a loose-forward.

However, 48 of his 53 caps came at number eight, with another four on the flank, and it was at the back of the scrum where he was certainly most proficient.

His international career started in 2006 with a 49-0 humbling against Australia in Brisbane, and ended with a 56-23 win over Samoa at Loftus Versfeld in 2013.

He did go to the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand and played in the Boks’ controversial quarterfinal defeat to Australia.

Most of his club career was spent with the Bulls (and under Heyneke Meyer), where he made 119 appearances over 11 seasons and won Super Rugby on three occasions. His reputation within the Super Rugby environment was solid and he had a heavy hand in those Bulls successes.

Spies had a brief spell in Japan too with Kintetsu Liners in 2015, before ending his playing career with Montpellier — under Jake White, who first called him up to the national team.



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