South African rugby chief reveals Josh Strauss’ Scotland plan
THE CHANCE to live and play in Scotland for three years and then represent his adopted nation at international level has emerged as a greater motivating factor behind new Glasgow player Josh Strauss’s move than the player previously let on.
The SRU has tried to play down talk of “project” players – flown into Scottish rugby to boost the strength of the national side.
But it has emerged in South Africa that Glasgow’s new No 8 Strauss appears to be just one such player.
The 27-year-old back row fulfils a clear need in the Scottish game for a big and powerful, yet skilful, ball-carrying forward and his international motivation, already widely suspected, does not alter the benefits he brings to the Warriors.
The signing was made in a short period of time last month after Glasgow agreed to release Tongan Viliami Ma’afu from his contract for “personal reasons”.
Strauss was quick to state on arrival that he was not in Scotland looking to play for the national team through the three-year residential rule and that his focus was on Glasgow.
That focus is not in doubt but, as with Willem Nel, the South African prop who has joined Edinburgh, his response to being asked if he was a player the SRU had signed with a view to becoming a Scotland international in time for the 2015 World Cup was almost too swift, suggesting some guidance from the SRU.
Since then, the president of the Golden Lions province in South Africa that Strauss was signed from has confirmed that a key factor in his release from an ongoing contract was the player’s desire to play for Scotland.
Kevin de Klerk said: “We identified with Josh’s needs as a player going forward. We looked at his potential involvement in South Africa Rugby [Test squad] and we realised that possibly as an international player he would not have cut it here.
“Joshua is 27 years of age. As a flanker you need to have established yourself pretty well and you need to move on there to go and make your mark in terms of international play. So we took into account his request to further his international career with Scotland and also receive a three-year contract that would then make him eligible to earn his citizenship as well to then participate in the next World Cup for Scotland. We are extremely grateful for what he’s done here at the Lions, and he’s very grateful for what we’ve done for him.”
Although widespread among leading rugby nations, the concept of “project players” has been so controversial move here that the SRU have been keen to distance themselves from it.
It ignites concern in a country with already too few opportunities to develop young pros that local talent would be missed in favour of ready-made foreign performers.
But the positive side is that the presence of figures such as Strauss and Nel can raise the bar for promising Scottish youngsters, such as No 8s Ryan Wilson and Stuart McInally and props Lewis Niven and Jon Welsh, to a level where they can ultimately make the pro clubs and Scotland stronger.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: West