Glasgow Warriors: Sale Sharks signing Josh Strauss has 'no hard feelings' after exit

Media playback is not supported on this device

Scotland's Josh Strauss eyes winning start for Gregor Townsend
Scotland v Italy
Date: Saturday, 10 June Venue: Singapore National Stadium Kick-off: 13:08 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One Scotland, BBC Radio Scotland and the BBC Sport Scotland website

Josh Strauss calls it a "happy-sad" thing, a mix of emotions flitting between regret that he has to move on from Glasgow, where his two young daughters were born, and excitement about a new life in Salford with Sale, an underachieving club that he hopes will come to life on his watch, as the Warriors did.

"Rugby's a business," says Strauss, from a balcony of the Scotland hotel in downtown Singapore. "I got word at the end of last year that I wouldn't be kept on and that was it.

"I had to phone my agent and tell him to start looking for something.

"There's no hard feelings. Glasgow will always be special to be my because of the boys I played with and because my two girls were born there. They're little Scottish lassies now."

Strauss' journey to Scotland began in Cape Town, where he surfed and dearly wanted to spend his life as a veterinary surgeon.

Then his path took him to France as a young rugby player, then back to South Africa, first with Boland and then, his big break, with the Golden Lions.

He was a bruising number eight, a guy who liked to get on the ball and carry, who liked to bring a huge physical dimension to proceedings. He could lead as well.

He wasn't long in the door at Scotstoun when Gregor Townsend made him a vice-captain to Al Kellock. That was the impact he had. It wasn't just his rugby that stood out, it was his personality.

Scotland forward Josh Strauss in action against France
Strauss picked up a kidney injury against France in February

Strauss told a story back then that endeared him to everyone, a story against himself in many ways, one that punctured a hole in the image of him as a fearless warrior.

It was the day in South Africa when he'd planned to propose to his girlfriend, Tami-Lee. He had it all prepared; the car journey to the outskirts of Johannesburg, the hot-air balloon at Meerhof by the Hartbeespoort Dam, the moment when he took the ring from his pocket as they soared majestically over the Magallies River Valley.

As the balloon went up, Strauss felt his nerve plummet in the opposite direction, not because of the enormous significance of the proposal but because of the enormous distance he was from the ground. "I lost my bottle," he laughed.

Once he returned to earth, the question was popped. Tami-Lee said yes and Sadie and Josie are the little Glaswegians he talks about now.

"At the end of the season, so many players were moving on from Glasgow and we had so many farewell dinners," he says.

"It just felt like you were mouthing-off cliches, but it's true, I've loved my time there. When I first arrived, I couldn't believe the humility of the group and how everyone was so down to earth. I can honestly say that it's the tightest-knit group I've ever worked with.

"Coming into the club at first, the one thing they hammered home was about how close they were as people. I don't know if my new club will be the same or different, but I'll definitely miss that bond.

"I don't tend to think about things until they smack me in the face and I never gave any thought to leaving until I was told it was happening.

"I'm sad about going but looking forward to new challenges. It's good to get out of your comfort zone sometimes."

Strauss is back in the Scotland team to play Italy on Saturday. That'll mark the end-point of his 17-week journey back from a lacerated kidney sustained in Paris in the Six Nations.

His form pre-championship hadn't been stellar, but he found something in those early games against Ireland and France that marked him out as a man reborn, a player who was once again delivering powerhouse ball-carrying performances that shot him to prominence in the first place.

The cruelty was that the injury seemed like nothing to him at the time. "It was tough," he says. "I had those two starts and you feel like you're getting a head of steam going.

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend
Strauss is in Gregor Townsend's first selection as Scotland coach

"Then I got the injury and it was a weird one. I felt like I'd just broken a rib and didn't think anything was wrong beyond that. It was a freak accident.

"Rest is the only thing that would fix it. You know, in weeks like this in Singapore, it looks like you've just popped back into the mix, but there's a lot of hard work that goes into coming back from injury.

"It's a bit tedious. The first few days are gut-wrenching. 'Why did this happen to me?' But it's like anything in life, there's no use crying over spilt milk. There's nothing you can do about it."

Sale finished a dismal 10th in the English Premiership last season. As such, they're a club that just hangs about in the league without doing a whole lot.

Their one title was 11 years ago, when they were inspired by Jason Robinson, Mark Cueto and chums. Charlie Hodgson and Richard Wigglesworth were in that side. So too, Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, Sebastien Chabal and Jason White.

Changed days now. "They're a proud club and I hope I can bring something to the place," says Strauss. "It's a great league and they're making some good signings, so there's a plan there."

That's for the future though. For now, it's all about this tour and trying to nail down the jersey that he laid claim to in the opening games of the Six Nations.

On Wednesday morning, Scotland trained in the most humid conditions that any of them had ever experienced in their playing lives. People continue to look at Strauss in wonder that he can get through the stifling heat without taking a blade to his beard to give his face a break.

He's insistent - the beard is staying where it is. The challenge for Saturday is to make sure his place in Townsend's pecking order remains every bit as secure.

Top Stories