Josh Strauss’s move to the Glasgow Warriors is part of plan to make him eligible for Scotland in time for the 2015 World Cup.
Strauss’s exit at the Golden Lions was expected as he’s been linked to several overseas sides in recent weeks, including a sensational move to the Crusaders. So it was no surprise when his departure to Scottish club the Glasgow Warriors was confirmed on Tuesday. The loose forward is set to join his new team in two weeks.
This transfer contradicted Lions president Kevin de Klerk’s statements that no contracted player would leave the union, as there were talks of a player exodus following the Johannesburg franchise’s relegation from Super Rugby.
Strauss was part of a 26-man contracted group, who were signed on until October 2013.
However, De Klerk explained that the agreement to release Strauss was because of extraordinary circumstances.
‘Josh’s move to Glasgow will give him a chance to play for Scotland at the next World Cup,’ De Klerk told keo.co.za. ‘He’s 25 years old and has been presented with an opportunity to make a family move abroad. The fact that he will have a chance to play Test rugby for Scotland in three years was a major factor behind his release [according to IRB rules, Strauss will have to complete 36 consecutive months of residence before he becomes eligible for selection].’
De Klerk added that no other players will be released from their current contracts.
‘We have to ensure that we continue to build a competitive team [during the Lions' Super Rugby absence]. Those contracted players form the core of our squad and are an important part of this team.’
Experienced players like hooker Bandise Maku, flyhalf Butch James and centre Waylon Murray do not feature among this contracted group. Flyhalf Elton Jantjies also has a clause in his deal, that will allow him to play for another Super Rugby franchise next season.
However, De Klerk revealed that no official offers have been made for these players.
‘Elton has a Super Rugby clause, but no one has made a move for him yet. Bandise, Butch and Waylon are also still very committed to the Lions, and I expect them to stay with the union.’
Meanwhile, De Klerk confirmed that there are plans for the Lions to take part in a competitive tournament during Super Rugby in 2013. The Lions, together with the IRB and Saru, are trying to put this initiative together.
‘Nothing is confirmed yet, but we are looking to play against European, American or Pacific Island teams. We do acknowledge that the welfare of our players’ careers need to be taken into account. In order to do that, they need to be playing rugby at the highest possible levels. This alternative tournament will provide this platform.
‘[Springbok head coach] Heyneke Meyer is also buying into these plans, so our players will be considered for national selection.’
By Gareth Duncan