'Ball-carrier at heart’ happy to be back in the mix
Scotland back-row Josh Strauss today expressed his delight in being back in camp and rekindling old friendships within the group, some 18 months on from his last taste of international action.
The Sale Sharks forward was one of six additions to the national team squad announced earlier this week as injuries to four were confirmed and three others were released back to their clubs.
His most recent of 14 caps came in the 2017 Summer Test defeat to Fiji in Suva [pictured below], with his unmistakable beard and baritone absent from selection squad since.
“It’s really good to be back after a surprise call up,” said Strauss.
“I came in on Sunday night and have been involved for two days now. It’s a bit different in terms of the intensity I’m currently used to, coming from club rugby.
“It’s been good, and great to see the lads again. I obviously have a good relationship with most of them and it’s been fun. I’m just glad to be back.
“Whether I get picked or not is out of my control, but there's an element that you can control and that’s training - being on time, taking in a whole new call sheet. There's a lot of knowledge to be taken in, studying to do."
A year in exile form international duty can seem like an eternity for the competitive Test match animal but Strauss, an amiable and laid-back individual generally, remained confident in his abilities, the areas of his game in which he has traditionally relied upon and is renowned for.
“It’s one of those things”, he continued.
“I’m the kind of guy that doesn’t worry about anything outside of my control. I’m at my club and have to play there, and play well there.
“Normally good things happen for you off the back of that. My mum always told me ‘you can’t keep a good man down’, so I just try and be as good as I can be.”
Strauss left Glasgow Warriors for the AJ Bell Stadium last year so it would be understandable if the familiarity with the a close-knit group would ebb somewhat from his Scotstoun days and with some 16 debutants fielded since his last Test.
Not so, revealed Strauss, who had worked regularly with some of the younger members of the squad as they plied their trade with the Fosroc Academy, aligned to the Warriors.
“There are a few new guys, though luckily most of the new guys I know from playing in the academy at Glasgow when I was there.
“There are a few new faces but in these set ups you come in and you meet up, you either become friends straight away or you don’t talk to each other much, but it’s normally the former.
“The good thing about Gregor [Townsend] is he’s always trying to improve what he does, and you can see different coaches about trying to help him create a better environment.
“The intensity is still right up there and is something I sort of forgot over the last year but, coming back in yesterday to a recovery session, I probably ran more metres than I would in a normal session, but it’s not been a big shock coming back in.
“Obviously, you play different systems or schemes, new attacking shapes for new attacking coaches, but I don’t think I’ve changed massively.
“I find myself in different spots every now and then with different players around you, who affect how you do your job, but I’ve always been a ball-carrier at heart and that comes naturally to me.
“I’ve always just tried to do that and make that my niche and a thing I’m good at. That’s always been my focus really.”