Richardt Strauss says the honour of being selected to make his Irish debut in Dublin on Saturday supersedes the fact that it will come against his countrymen.
South African-born Strauss was on Thursday named as starting hooker for the weekend’s Test against the Springboks at Aviva Stadium, where he will go head-to-head with his cousin Adriaan Strauss.
For the 26-year-old, however, knowing that he’ll finally achieve his goal of representing his adopted country makes the identity of the opposition irrelevant.
“I made my commitment to Ireland three years ago and I’m very happy to get this opportunity,” said Strauss, who won the Currie Cup with the Cheetahs before linking up with Leinster in 2009.
“For me it’s more special to run out for Ireland than anything else. I would have taken it if it was against an Under-13 B-team, so I’m just very happy about this opportunity,” he said.
Ireland coach Declan Kidney praised Strauss’s commitment to working his way into the Irish set-up.
“It’s always difficult picking up things and leaving from home but he’s thrown himself fully into Leinster. Nobody would have made it easy for him to come true but he’s fought his way through everything, he’s fought his way in here, he’s picked by merit and we’re very lucky to have him,” said Kidney.
He added that while both teams are missing a number of frontline players through injury, South Africa’s enviable depth stands them in good stead.
“They’re the third ranked team in the world. The fact that they have a few knocks won’t matter, they have greater depth than us,” he said.
"They’ve gone well in the Under-20 World Championships and that is always a good platform to bring young players through. We probably don’t know as much about some of the younger lads as we do the more experienced players, which is a benefit to them.
Eighthman Jamie Heaslip, who was preferred as captain ahead of flyhalf Jonathan Sexton, said the hosts expect a typically physical onslaught from the Springboks.
“The Springboks are pretty confrontational and make no bones about running at or over you. They look to provide nice quick ball to their backs from set or general play and try and get some tries off you. They can also punish you from penalties 50 metres out,” he said.
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