Fired-up Scotland forward Josh Strauss has vowed to beat Australia in tribute to banned teammates Ross Ford and Jonny Gray.
The Dark Blues pair were rocked on Tuesday night by the news their Rugby World Cup was over after receiving three-week bans for their illegal two-man tip-tackle on Samoa’s Jack Lam.
Despite being told their offence was at the “lower end” of the disciplinary scale, they will miss Sunday’s quarter-final clash with the Wallabies and the rest of the tournament should the Scots claim an unlikely victory.
The Scots are considering an appeal but it remains unlikely that Edinburgh hooker Ford or Glasgow lock Gray will feature again at England 2015.
Strauss feels his colleagues were treated harshly and has vowed to take out his frustration on the Aussies at Twickenham.
“We are all very disappointed for Ross and Jonny,” Strauss said.
“Being a close group of lads we know each other very well and these are two very determined guys.
“It was a tough call [for the disciplinary officer] and I don’t have to make them but we feel it was tough on them.
“When I heard it myself, and I can only speak for myself, I was angry.
“It was more for them. I can imagine myself in their shoes and how I would feel if it was me.
“But personally that is good for me. It motivates me. I want to put in a performance for them if I’m selected. I want to make them proud because they have made all of us proud.”
Ironically, Strauss could actually benefit from the decision to suspend Gray.
With only Tim Swinson as recognised second-row cover, No.8 David Denton may be asked to step up to provide back-up at lock, leaving his back-row slot free for Strauss.
But whoever head coach Vern Cotter decides to pick, Strauss insists the players will not be distracted by the disappointment of seeing their teammates ruled out of the tournament.
“Rugby is an environment of adversity and we have all experienced enough things and dealt with them in the past so this will just make us stronger as a group,” the 28-year-old said.
“Now we’ll just park our emotions and focus on the game.”
South Africa-born Strauss has plenty experience taking on the best players from Down Under following his spell with the Lions in Super Rugby.
But even with two of the Scots’ most important players ruled out, Strauss is still walking into the last-eight crunch with a confident stride.
“I’m much older than some of the guys in the team but this is still the biggest game of my career.
“But you don’t come into a competition thinking you can’t win it.
“I’ve been lucky enough to face a couple of their players before in Super Rugby and anybody can be beaten.
“We’ve earned the right to be here and we’re going to show it at the weekend. There is no sense that we can be intimidated by them. The feeling is we are going to win. The belief is that we will win.”