AL STROKOSCH is loving life in the south of France as he prepares to begin a new chapter in his career with Top 14 side Perpignan.
The 29-year-old, from Stewartfield, left English Premiership side Gloucester in the summer to pursue a career in Europe and the Scotland international admits he has settled easily into life in the French city, but needs to work on his language skills.
He told the News: “I’ve made the transition pretty quickly – I’ve got a cracking big house out here 15 minutes from the beach and an hour away from the mountains, so I’ve got everything I could want.
“Some things have been difficult in terms of organising things, but from a rugby point of view it’s been straightforward, not much has changed in that respect.
“We’ve had three pre-season games so far and won two of them so we are looking good ahead of the league starting.
“The language is a bit of an issue for me, but I am getting lessons.
“I’ve picked up some things just from being out and about and hearing it spoken, but the plan is to get by right now and keep building on what I know.
“I go for French lessons between training sessions and I’m told it should take eight months to a year for me to become fluent, so that will be a new challenge.”
The former East Kilbride Rugby Club player begins his Top 14 campaign on Saturday night when Perpignan host last season’s runners-up Toulon at Stade Aimé Giral.
Strokosch’s new side finished 11th in the table last season, just avoiding relegation, and he expects a tough opener this weekend.
He added: “Toulon are one of the heavyweights so it’s a difficult game to start with, but things have been going well for us and we believe we can get the result.
“It’ll be quite an atmosphere in our stadium with a team like that coming to play us and they can expect a hostile atmosphere, that’s for sure.”
And with a new beginning in the south of France, does the Scotland international pine for a taste of home?
“I don’t miss much at all, if I’m honest,” said Strokosch.
“The quality of life out here is outstanding and I’m delighted I made the move to Perpignan.
“It’s a great place to be.”