A prominent member of Scotland’s Rugby World Cup squad feels “anger” at the decision to ban Ross Ford and Jonny Gray from the rest of the tournament and will turn a performance in Sunday’s quarter-final “to make them proud”.
Josh Strauss broke ranks on Scotland’s diplomatic silence so far over the citing commissioner’s decision to slap three-week bans on the veteran Ford and youngster Gray for a perceived tip tackle incident during last Saturday’s 36-33 win over Samoa.
Senior management were waiting for the full transcript of the decision yesterday and have not yet launched an appeal on behalf of both men, even though it’s pretty much unprecedented for a disciplinary panel’s findings to be wiped out entirely.
In the meantime Strauss wasn’t afraid to give vent to the real feelings about what’s happened over the last few days.
“We are all very disappointed for Ross and Jonny,” he said. “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.”
While feeling the decision is harsh, Scotland will be professional and prepare for the game without the pair.
“We have achieved so much as a group together and we are not going to let anything stand in our way,” he said.
“As their friend, 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 been great. 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.”
The Scots still go into the quarter-final with confidence, and Strauss knows it’s the biggest game he’s ever played in.
“I’m much older than some of the guys in the team but this is still the biggest game of my career,” he said.
“You don’t come into a competition thinking you can’t win it.
“The key to the game will be physicality. They are great at the breakdown. So physicality at the set-piece and everywhere else will be where the game is won.
“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.”