Richardt Strauss could prove to be an inspirational figure for a new-look Ireland side against Romania at Wembley on Sunday, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Strauss, the cousin of Springbok hooker Adriaan, received his Irish citizenship at an official ceremony at the beginning of September, but he’s already featured in 10 Tests for Ireland.
The physical hooker is a talismanic figure, and a leader in his own right. He’s the type of player Ireland will expect to quite literally lead from the front as they get set to take on a Romanian side that held their own at times against France recently.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has made wholesale changes to his starting XV for Sunday’s match, understandably keeping one eye on the big Tests still to come against Italy and France.
Among the backs, veteran scrumhalf Eoin Reddan will also have an important role to play, as Schmidt opted to include only two specialist scrumhalves in their World Cup squad, with versatile Leinster flyhalf Ian Madigan providing the emergency back-up.
Reddan has been handed the No 9 jersey for Sunday’s match, and his ability to seamlessly slot in for Conor Murray will be important to the Irish cause, especially as Schmidt looks to keep both halfbacks fresh.
Reddan's combination with Madigan will be key as a bonus-point victory will surely be there for the taking, and would also enable Ireland to move to the top of Pool C.
STRAUSS’S STATS THAT MATTER
10 – Test caps
7 – Test starts
2 – Test tries
Ireland – 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Darren Cave, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip (c), 7 Chris Henry, 6 Jordi Murphy, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Nathan White, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Cian Healy.
Subs: Sean Cronin, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Paul O'Connell, 20 Sean O'Brien, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Paddy Jackson, 23 Rob Kearney.
Romania – TBC
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Leighton Hodges (Wales), Romain Poite (France)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)