Josh Strauss: We’ll beat South Africa in tribute to Ford and Gray

‘It was tough on them - when I heard myself, and I can only speak for myself, I was angry’

Fired-up Scotland forward Josh Strauss has vowed to beat Australia in tribute to banned team-mates Ross Ford and Jonny Gray.

The Dark Blues pair were rocked by the news on Tuesday night that their World Cup was over after recieving three-week bans for their illegal two-man tip-tackle on Samoa's Jack Lam.

Despite being told their offence was at the “lower end” of the disciplinary scale, they will now miss Sunday’s quarter-final clash with the Wallabies and the rest of the tournament should the Scots claim an unlikely victory.

The Scots are considering an appeal but it remains unlikely that Edinburgh hooker Ford nor Glasgow lock Gray will feature again at England 2015.


Strauss certainly feels his colleagues were treated harshly and has vowed to take out his frustration on the Aussies at Twickenham.

He said: “We are all very disappointed for Ross and Jonny. Being a close group of lads we know each other very well and these are two very determined guys.

“It was a tough call [for the disciplinary officer] and I don’t have to make them but we feel it was tough on them.

“When I heard it myself, and I can only speak for myself, I was angry.

“It was more for them. I can imagine myself in their shoes and how I would feel if it was me.

“But personally that is good for me. It motivates me. I want to put in a performance for them if I’m selected. I want to make them proud because they have made all of us proud.

“We have achieved so much as a group together and we are not going to let anything stand in our way.”

Ironically, Strauss could actually benefit from the decision to suspend Gray.

With only Tim Swinson as recognised second-row cover, number eight David Denton may be asked to step up to provide back-up at lock, leaving his back-row slot free for Strauss.

But whoever head coach Vern Cotter decides to pick, Strauss insists the players will not be distracted by the disappointment of seeing their team-mates ruled out of the tournament.

The 28-year-old Glasgow man said: “As their friend, I feel it was quite a harsh decision. I feel for them.

“But we took the disappointment last night. Rugby is an environment of adversity and we have all experienced enough things and dealt with them in the past so this will just make us stronger as a group.

“Now we’ll just park our emotions and focus on the game.

“Both the guys have responded so well. They were really good in training. They are both mature enough to know there’s no point sulking. That will only affect the morale of the other players.

“But they have been brilliant. I was really surprised at how energetic they were in training and the positive vibe they were bringing.

“Even if you are not selected you have to give the players who are playing the best platform in training and that is their mentality.”

South Africa-born Strauss has plenty experience taking on the best players from Down Under following his spell with the Lions in Super Rugby.

But even with two of the Scots’ most important players ruled out, Strauss is still walking into the last-eight crunch with a confident stride.

He said: “I’m much older than some of the guys in the team but this is still the biggest game of my career.

“But you don’t come into a competition thinking you can’t win it.

“I’ve been lucky enough to face a couple of their players before in Super Rugby and anybody can be beaten.

“We’ve earned the right to be here and we’re going to show it at the weekend. There is no sense that we can be intimidated by them. The feeling is we are going to win. The belief is that we will win.

“The key to the game will be physicality. They are great at the breakdown. They have got great balance and a great pack. So physicality at the set-piece and everywhere else will be where the game is won.”