New Edinburgh Rugby skipper Andries Strauss is today savouring the prospect of teaming up with a “world class” centre partner when the team go in search of a first away Rabo-Direct PRO12 win of the season, at Benetton Treviso tomorrow.
On his fifth start, all in succession, the 29-year-old South African has been handed the captaincy in a new midfield link with Matt Scott, who returns from international duty.
“I’m excited about playing with Matty, a talented player,” Strauss said. “It’s our first game together and we’ll probably feel each other out as the season progresses.”
Scott switches to the less familiar outside centre role but Strauss insists his colleague can take that in his stride.
“As far as having quality outside me Matt is a world class player,” says Strauss, who had a career highlight when representing the Springboks in a non-cap “international” against the Barbarians a few years ago.
Strauss, brother of Ireland hooker Richardt Strauss and cousin of Springbok Adriaan Strauss, has been lured to Scotland partly by the prospect of linking up again with coach Alan Solomons who handed him the captaincy at the Southern Kings.
“I’m quite excited. I’ve captained a couple of sides before and it is something I am comfortable with. I’m quite honoured that I have been given that responsibility.”
Edinburgh have won only once in their past five matches in all tournaments and just two points have been accrued on the road. The good news is that these have come in their last two trips, at Scarlets and Connacht, in what Solomons believes is a sign of things finally coming together.
“I hope we can go out and give a good performance which we really need at this stage of the season,” added Strauss, who has twice been a winner of South Africa’s top domestic competition, the Currie Cup.
“We are obviously focusing on where we are at the moment, trying to go week to week.
“The short-term goal is to beat Treviso but having signed until 2016 I certainly see my future lying with Edinburgh.”
Benetton Treviso have lost their past eight matches in all tournaments and have not scored a try in the PRO12 for 266 minutes, since Leonardo Sarto crossed against Ospreys on February 16. However, Treviso did hold Munster to 14-3 at Thomond Park last week and in seven league meetings with Edinburgh have won three times.
Edinburgh: Bezuidenhout; Cuthbert, Scott, Strauss (captain), Brown; Leonard, Hart; Dickinson, Ford, Nel, Gilchrist, Van der Westhuizen, Du Preez, Denton, Grant. Subs: Hilterbrand, Blaauw, McQuillin, Atkins, Leonardi, Kennedy, Beard, Hidalgo-Clyne.