Scotland go into Saturday's (17 October) quarter-final against Australia without banned hooker Ross Ford and lock Jonny Gray, but back dower Josh Strauss said that will give the players more motivation to win.
Ford and Gray were banned for three weeks after being cited over a dangerous tackle when the duo cleared out Jack Lam at a ruck during Scotland's pool victory against Samoa last Saturday, which secured their quarter-final against Australia.
A team spokesman expressed "disappointment" at the ban, which was reduced from an initial five weeks to three because of mitigating circumstances and Scotland were considering an appeal pending a review of the full judgment.
In its efforts to reduce the risk of serious head and neck injuries, World Rugby insists on heavy punishments for tackles where a player is lifted above the horizontal but not helped safely back to ground. Scotland, who have 48 hours to appeal Tuesday's (13 October) decision, face Australia in the last of the four quarter-finals at Twickenham on Sunday.
At a training session in Guildford, southwest of London on Wednesday (14 October), back rower Strauss said: "Obviously, when I heard it - personally, I can only speak for myself - I was angry, you know. More for them, you know. I just imagine myself in their shoes and how I would feel if it was me. But I mean, I think that's, personally I think that is good; it motivates me. You know I want, obviously you know, put in a performance for them if I am selected and you want, you know, you want to make them proud when they are not playing because they have made all of us proud and they have played really well."
Asked at his news conference how Ford and Gray were coping, Strauss said surprisingly well. "No they're good. Finn said it, they were really good in training, very positive. You know I think they are both mature enough and experienced enough to know that there is no point in them, you know, sulking about it as it would just affect the morale of the other players. They have been brilliant you know. I was really surprised with how energetic they were in training and just the positive sort of vibe they were bringing."
Strauss said the squad was focussed on winning what would probably be the biggest game of most of their careers so far. "The goal is to win on the weekend and if that is overcoming adversity then brilliant. But I think, you know, the focus, first and foremost, is just to win the game, obviously you know. We have achieved so much as a group together and you know, we are not going to let anything stand in our way. Going into one of the biggest games of probably most of our careers you know. I mean, I'm much older than Finn but this is still, you know, this will be the biggest game I will be involved in, if I am involved and you know that is the focus and that is what we want to look forward to."
Strauss acknowledged he would have to "front up" in facing two of the best back row players in the world in Michael Hooper and David Pocock. "You know you just have to be physical. You have got to be there quicker, you have got to be better and you know it is knock-out rugby. So if we are better on the day then we will win the game and that will mean just, you know, fronting up and you know being in their face all day," said Strauss.