Strauss | Self-assessment key to Ireland clash

Scotland back-row Josh Strauss today explained self-assessment has been key to the national team’s preparations as anticipation builds for this Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations Test against Ireland at BT Murrayfield.

Scotland have not lost a home match in the championship since the opening round of the 2016 campaign and, while several memorable performances and capacity crowds have followed, the team’s physical preparation takes priority over the psychological means of motivation at this stage of the week.

“The games become sort of animal, where you just focus on yourself,” he said.

“I think a lot of teams now are trying to get away from the whole fact of focusing too much on if we’re at home or away.

“That comes later in the week when you start talking about a few mental things.

“Earlier in the week it’s more physical preparation than anything else and then, later in the week, the mental side starts to come in and you talk about playing at home and what it means.

“It’s great that it’s sold out. It’s a great feeling singing the national anthem with a full stadium. It does boost us a lot.

“You know it’s going to be full and that the people are going to be behind you.”

Strauss moved from Glasgow Warriors to Sale Sharks in 2017, where it could be argued the more attractional nature of the English Premiership could stand him in good stead for this weekend’s Irish assault.

Not so, believes Strauss, who pointed to this year’s displays of the Guinness PRO14 teams in Europe as an example of Celtic calibre and its comfort with battling it out in the trenches.

“It’s all physical. It’s tough leagues all over,” he added.

“There’s experiences you can bring from playing in a different competition, playing against different players, new challenges, new experiences.

“From my experience, every time we come back in Scotland, the focus is here, and we try and see what we can do better as a team.”