André and I have always been close friends. I had the good fortune to be his room-mate on the 1931/32 tour to the U.K., a time when we ate, slept, and dreamt rugby and discovered many other things together, as this was the first time we had travelled overseas.
Mr Markotter created the No. 8 position in those days; the player was effectively a third lock. Andre had been playing centre for the second team for Stellenbosch for quite a while and was in fact on the point of being dropped as he was no more than mediocre in that position.
Mr Markotter's daughter, Babsie, told me many years later how her father had spent hours wandering up and down the passage of their house muttering: "He is not a wing, not a centre, not a flyhalf, not a scrumhalf. What is he?"
At a practice one afternoon Mr Mark ordered McDonald to go and buy himself a scrumcap!
McDonald inquired as to why he should, Mr Markotter said: "As from tomorrow, like it or not, you'll be putting your head right there," pointing to the No. 8 position, as it is known today, in the scrum.
The next day, after a practice match wearing his scrumcap, and doing all the things Mr Markotter had told him to do, André was exhausted. So badly was he exhausted that he was obliged to lie down from sheer fatigue. I can still hear the shouts from some of the students on the side of the field, saying: "You're killing him, Mr Markotter, you're making him do too much."
Nevertheless it was in that position that Andre became a Springbok. When he retired, I was at a complete loss, because whenever I broke round the side of the scrum, no matter how fast I moved, André would always be there.
He used to round off many such movements, and in fact we complemented each other so well, that when he gave up the game I seriously considered retiring as well. What more can one say of a team-mate - André was a true-blue.