Cape Town – Dual Springbok and Wallabies international Tiaan
Strauss has defended SA-born Scott Spedding’s inclusion in the French national rugby
side, saying it is a “great opportunity and achievement” for the fullback.
The 28-year-old Spedding, born in Krugersdorp and once on
the Sharks’ books, made his debut against Fiji – a rousing one -- and is in the
mix again for Saturday’s bigger clash against Australia in Paris.
Reports in the Australian press on Thursday said Spedding’s
inclusion had caused “unrest” in French domestic rugby, given that he is a
third South African-born player in the current squad, which also boasts a New
Spedding first began his French club career six years ago,
qualifies now through residency and received his passport late last month.
But ace, Upington-born loose forward Strauss, who earned 15
Bok caps between 1992 and 1994 but later compiled another 11 in a year of
further Test activity with the Wallabies in 1999, backs Spedding’s right to
play for an adopted country.
“Increased (movement between borders) is a fact of life ...
he’s not the first South African to play for France and won’t be the last,” he
“If you make a dedicated career move because you think your
best chance lies elsewhere, then good luck to you ... not everyone can play for
“Some people really flourish for an adopted country, just
fitting better into that environment or pattern of play, and it happens across
sports – not just rugby. I’m certainly supportive of someone who pursues his
The 49-year-old Strauss, now general manager (rugby) for
Megapro Marketing, did concede that “you don’t want to get to a situation where
half your side are foreigners” as it could impact on national pride.
But he said that if players proved their loyalty to a new
cause through passion and weight of performance, they would earn broad
“It definitely adds pressure on you to perform: everyone’s
waiting to criticise you initially; I was given a hard time by some journos
(when he first ran out for the Wallabies).
“But I was lucky enough to get three tries straight away (in
a 46-10 triumph over Ireland in Brisbane) and suddenly the mood rather changed.”
*Strauss said he was confident the Boks would produce the
goods against England at Twickenham on Saturday.
“I think the guys will have done their homework after the
loss to the Irish – it was a good wakeup call, and we ought to be better in
execution this time.
“We were so close to breaking Ireland’s back, but made
crucial mistakes and also learned that you must take your ‘three points’
opportunities to keep the board ticking.”
He said he welcomed certain changes but was a little
surprised coach Heyneke Meyer had made as many as five for the London date.
“Would they have ‘rotated’ as much as they’re claiming they
are if they’d won in Dublin? I’m not so sure ... remember that same team had
beaten the All Blacks not long earlier.
“But I welcome starts for players like JP (Pietersen) and
Schalk (Burger). I feel a bit sorry for Handre Pollard ... you must build a guy
like that, and he didn’t do too many wrong things against the Irish.”
*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing