Strauss happy to sing off the same song sheet
One of the defining images of last Saturday’s Test was assuredly that of Ireland’s adopted South African gamely singing Amhrán na bhFiann. Declan Kidney confirmed afterwards that Richardt Strauss had done so of his own accord, without anyone asking him to, and yesterday the Ireland hooker spoke of learning the words last week.
“I actually thought of it a while back but I thought I don’t want to be arrogant and jinx the whole thing so I thought I’ll do it the first week we got into camp and then got overcome with all the new detail and left it off until last week. I started learning it off then, to be honest, and it was actually quite easy.”
“I looked it up on YouTube and then on the internet a bit, and then listened to it and played it back and got another thing off the internet where they break the words into a more simple pronunciation.”
Not, by his own admission, the best singer in the world, (“I tried to keep it as private as possible”) he was asked if he had surprised a few of his team-mates “Maybe, yeah, a couple of them,” he smiled. “I’m not sure to be honest.”
Typically unmoved when put in front of the combined Irish and South African media a week ago, he admitted this slipped a little on Saturday.
“To be honest I’m really not a guy who really gets quite emotional, I always get fired up when people get emotional and start crying and stuff, and I never thought it was going to happen to me. But as we ran onto the pitch I found myself getting really emotional and thought, ‘get yourself together, it’s not good to get over-emotional now’. And after a couple of seconds I actually calmed down and I was alright.”
Aside from playing against his cousin, the game was made a little more special by his parents Andries and, would you credit it, Colleen, flying over for the game. Although they loved the experience, he didn’t spend as much time with them as he would have liked prior to them returning to South Africa yesterday afternoon.
“Obviously it’s tough on my mum. I remember the first time I left to come over here and it was quiet as that was going on, and as I said goodbye she burst out in tears and I actually felt quite sorry for her at that moment. But she’s very happy so it’s alright.”
Grateful for 48 hours recuperation before resuming training yesterday, he still bore Saturday’s scars, notably a badly cut and swollen lower lip, but Strauss confirmed the injury was not malicious.
Apologising for the impediment to his speech, he revealed: “Actually it happened with Ruan Pienaar and he’s the most soft-spoken, nice guy there is. As he kicked I tried to ankle tap him and just dived into the back of his boot, so I was pretty unlucky.” As he stood up he felt his teeth, and the warm blood on his lip was almost reassuring. Returning in the 11th minute, he had no idea how many stitches were inserted.
Nor did he regard his first Test something to get over with. “It was something I wanted to cherish and remember and apart from the result, I think it’s something that’s special and it’s just ironic that I happened to play my cousin. Yeah, I’m delighted to get the first one under my belt but I’m bitterly disappointed with the result.”
As for his own performance, he said: “You’re never happy with everything you did. Obviously there’s some good stuff, but you’re always looking at the stuff you didn’t do right. For me, there’s loads of breakdown work I’d like to work on. A couple of line-outs didn’t go as planned too so that’s something we’ll have a look at.”
He also praised Michael Bent for his solid start, venturing that as with himself, more will come from Bent. The likelihood is that Bent will start in an entirely rejigged frontrow, with Strauss on a strong bench.
Now, at least, he’d be able to teach Bent the national anthem? “I wouldn’t go that far!”