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'It was great to have Joe there to deflect the attention onto him!'

Hooker Richardt Strauss is now officially an Irishman.
Sep 8th 2015, 3:56 PM 8,019 14

THE ISSUE OF international eligibility in rugby is one that has been widely and strongly debated in recent times, but Richardt Strauss doesn’t have anything to prove.

Richardt Strauss and Paul O'Connell Strauss carries the ball against Wales. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The hooker was granted Irish citizenship alongside Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt and the IRFU’s Olly Hodges at a ceremony in Dublin last week. Strauss first signed for Leinster in 2009 and has gone on to win 10 Ireland caps, including one off the bench against England last weekend.

The 29-year-old earned his first international cap against his native South Africa in 2012, and has since gone through the shock of being diagnosed with a heart condition in 2013, before making a remarkably quick recovery from the subsequent surgery.

His passion for playing for Ireland has always been worn on his sleeve and Strauss says he’s thrilled to have been granted his citizenship.

I was a long time waiting for it and it’s something I’ve always considered coming over,” said Strauss after Ireland’s training session at the RDS today. “It eventually happened after waiting quite a while, I’m just delighted for it to go through.”

Though it changes his official status, Strauss underlines that he has never felt anything other than Irish when representing the country.

“The first time I played for Ireland was a very proud moment for me. I don’t think that’s going to change, that feeling I get every time I put on the green jersey and represent the country.

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“I think the only difference now is that I can really say it’s my country. It’s great and hopefully we can go on and be successful.”

Strauss is part of the 31-man Ireland World Cup squad that travels to Cardiff in just over a week ahead of their tournament opener against Canada. With Rory Best the first choice in the number two shirt, Strauss has been battling with provincial teammate Sean Cronin for the next spot in the pecking order.

Schmidt will have a difficult call to make around his trio of hookers for match days, but Strauss got an opportunity to link up with the Kiwi away from rugby when they were both officially granted Irish citizenship last week.

It was a bit awkward,” said Strauss of the ceremony, “but luckily Joe took most of the attention. It was great to have him there to deflect the attention onto him!”

Strauss jokes that his own Gaeilge might have made a rendition of the national anthem a difficult thing to do, but says he could have “mumbled my way through it!”

No test was required for Strauss to be granted his citizenship though, and he will instead continue to prove his passion for the nation out on the pitch.

Schmidt’s Ireland train in the RDS with fullback Kearney on fringes

Kearney looks to the positives as Ireland put England defeat behind them

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Murray Kinsella


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