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For now, focus remains on home front for Glasgow Warrior Josh Strauss

Josh Strauss shrugs, says he is not quite sure, but you can bet your Scotstoun season ticket that the date is etched in his mind.

Josh Strauss could remain Glasgow captain until the return of Al Kellock in October. Picture: SNS/ SRU
Josh Strauss could remain Glasgow captain until the return of Al Kellock in October. Picture: SNS/ SRU

September 19, 2015. From that day on, Strauss will be eligible to play for Scotland.

Maybe just four days on, for the Scots will open their World Cup campaign next year when they take on Japan at Gloucester's Kingsholm ground on September 23. A lot can happen between now and then, and the attrition rate among back-row players is frighteningly high, but as the prospect of completing his three-year residency period looms, Strauss is well aware that the season just beginning will have a huge bearing on his international prospects.

Not that he is putting that pressure on himself. Strauss might play like an out-of-control threshing machine, but he is an impressively level-headed and thoughtful individual off the pitch. Those qualities suggest he could well carry the Glasgow captaincy until Al Kellock returns from injury in October, but also that he is not going to get ahead of himself in his pursuit of Test rugby.

"If I was to be selected [for Scotland] it would be very important to have a good season, but everyone wants to have that anyway," he said. "For now, my focus is on staying healthy because it's going to be a long season, so organising things and looking after myself is important. I want to put in consistent performances for Glasgow."

Strauss actually got close to a cap in his native South Africa a few seasons ago, but after being picked for the training camp ahead of a Test series against England he was cut from the final squad. Nor was that any flash in the pan, for when he signed for Glasgow in September 2012 he was also being courted by Ulster as well as the Crusaders and Chiefs in New Zealand.

Given his origins, it seems fitting that Strauss should be a big game player, his best performances coming generally against top-flight teams. His very first outing for Glasgow was a Heineken Cup meeting with Northampton Saints at Franklin's Gardens, from which he emerged with the Man of the Match award, a feat he repeated a few weeks later against Leinster.

In which light, there was clear relish in his voice as he looked ahead to today's meeting with Harlequins at Scotstoun, the first of Glasgow's two pre-season warm-ups and a match in which the English side's starting line-up will feature players of the calibre of Chris Robshaw, Nick Easter, Mike Brown and Danny Care.

"I didn't play against them last year so I am excited about it," Strauss said. "They are a great team and I'm looking forward to the challenge. After a long preseason, our team is really raring to go, just to get that first hit out.

"Coming from the southern hemisphere, I seemed to know only the big names so I knew who Robshaw was and I had watched him over the years. Over the last few seasons he has been exceptional as a player and the leader, so it will be a good challenge to go up against him."

In two weeks' time Glasgow will open their Guiness PRO12 challenge against Leinster, the reigning champions and the side which defeated them in last season's final, so Strauss can appreciate the value of a warm-up game that should be anything but a gentle introduction to the new campaign.

"Whoever we played in the first game it would be important to get momentum going in the pre-season games," said Strauss. "Normally, you have about four games to get the ball rolling, but we only have two this year so we have to hit the ground running and get everything sorted as quickly as possible.

"But we are looking forward to it and Harlequins will be a tough game and a good challenge. We're especially looking forward to Europe this year and because we don't play these teams often it will be good to see how we go. It will be good to test ourselves.

"It is the first game for us so there will be a bit of rust but we are looking to hit the ground running's and just play as well as we can."

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