Strauss eager to keep improving
Having made his Ireland debut in the defeat to South Africa last Saturday, Ricahrdt Strauss is determined to improve aspects of his game as he hopes to earn more caps in the green jersey.
After living in Ireland for three years, Strauss qualified for Declan Kidney’s team under the residency rule and injury to Ulster hooker Rory Best saw the Leinster man drafted straight into the starting XV alongside provincial teammates Cian Healy and Mike Ross.
Strauss’s debut was made all the more memorable by the fact that he was facing his home nation South Africa and was directly opposing his cousin Adriaan Strauss who wore the number 2 jersey for the Springboks.
The hooker showed flashes of why he has become a Leinster favourite in Saturday’s game but Ireland’s lineout functioned poorly, particularly in the first half. Pleased as he was to earn his first cap, Strauss admitted there are things he needs to work on.
“I'm delighted to get the first one under my belt but I'm bitterly disappointed with the result,” he said.
"It was something I wanted to cherish and remember. Apart from the result , I think it is something that's special and it is just ironic that I happened to play against my cousin.
“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 lineouts didn't go as planned too so that's something we'll have a look at and try to sort out.
“You always have to learn. The day you stop learning is the day you have to hang up your boots.
“I think the day when a player thinks he has it all is the day when he has to walk out the door."
The acquisition of Strauss’s services was somewhat overshadowed in the build up to Saturday’s game by the presence of Michael Bent, a New Zealand-born prop with an Irish grandmother, who was parachuted into the Irish team before making an appearance for his new team Leinster.
Bent’s presence in the match day squad did not sit well with some big names in the Irish rugby community with the likes of Keith Wood suggesting that it shouldn’t be so easy to get into the Ireland squad.
With questions festering about the qualification process for players born outside Ireland, Strauss proved his commitment to the green jersey by joining in the pre-match rendition of Amhrán na bhFiann, something which he hopes surprised his new teammates.
"I actually thought of it a while back but I thought I don't want to be arrogant and jinx the whole thing (of being selected to play), so I thought I'll do it the first week in camp and then got overcome with all the new detail and left it off until last week," he explained.
"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.
"I got another thing off the internet where they break the words into a more simple pronunciation. I tried to keep it as private as possible, maybe a couple (of my team-mates) were surprised by it."