Josh Strauss admits it will be strange watching Glasgow’s crucial clash with Leinster from afar tonight but is hopeful that the Warriors can make it four straight wins in the Guinness Pro12 and maintain their push for a play-off place.
Strauss will be in Dublin with the Scotland squad after being named on the bench for tomorrow’s Six Nations finale against Ireland, but will have a keen eye on events at Scotstoun and the match that has been re-arranged after a December postponement.
After being named McCrea Financial Services Warrior of the Month for February, Strauss told The Scotsman: “I’m pretty sure we’ll be watching the game at the team hotel.
“It is a bit strange not being involved. In the past few years before I qualified for Scotland I was always in for these games during the Six Nations period.
“It’s obviously going to be a tough game but, hopefully, with home advantage, the boys can get a win. The next two games are going to be crucial for the Warriors.”
Strauss said he was happy with the way his performances have steadily improved after a concussion setback at the start of the year and was pleased to receive the acknowledgement of the fans with the award.
“It’s normally Leone [Nakarawa], so it’s nice to get one,” he joked. “It has been a bit stop-and-go this season, with injuries and stuff. I was out for a few weeks with a concussion which is always the most difficult one because you’re not allowed to do any kind of physical activity. You can’t go to the gym or anything and I had that for about four weeks so it’s quite tough to come back from that.
“It took a lot of hard work and I had to gradually be put back. It was frustrating but I’ve been happy with how it’s gone.”
Strauss took a bit of time to get back into the groove with the Pro12 champions after being away at the World Cup and said: “A bit like me personally it has been a bit of an up-and-down season for the team generally.
“We’ve had a lot of internationalists away and we’ve also lost a few of the guys who would normally cover those positions to injury. But we’ve put our heads together and the last few games have gone better and hopefully we can still come out with a play-off spot at the end of the season.”
Returning stand-off Rory Clegg has been named in the Warriors team tonight, while back-rowers Adam Ashe and Tyrone Holmes both return from injury. Clegg has re-joined on a deal until May 2017 and, following five months with French Top 14 side Oyonnax, goes straight into the starting line-up to make his first appearance for the club since facing Leinster at the RDS last October. Ashe starts at No 8 after recovering from a shoulder injury, while Holmes has shaken off a three-month foot injury to take his place in the bench.
Mark Bennett is in the 13 jersey, while Grayson Hart replaces Henry Pyrgos, who has been recalled to the Scotland squad, at scrum-half. Nakarawa moves up the pack to partner USA international Greg Peterson in second row. James Eddie comes in for Rob Harley, who is also in Dublin with the national squad, at blindside, and Simone Favaro replaces Chris Fusaro at No 7.
Warriors coach Gregor Townsend said: “We’re really looking forward to facing Leinster at a sold-out Scotstoun tomorrow night.
“We’ve had some great battles with them over the years and they have being playing well during the Six Nations window. They have always set very high standards and continue to deliver a high level of performance, whichever team they put out on the field.”