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'We don't have a choice' - Blair Kinghorn on approach to Ireland game

By PA
: Blair Kinghorn of Scotland breaks with the ball as Pita Ahki of Tonga looks on during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Scotland and Tonga at Stade de Nice on September 24, 2023 in Nice, France. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Blair Kinghorn hopes his best form in a Scotland shirt is still to come as he prepares to win his 50th cap in Saturday night’s box-office World Cup showdown with Ireland in Paris.

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The 26-year-old Edinburgh back made his debut in February 2018 and will bring up his half-century in the Stade de France in a match the Scots must win either with a bonus point or by denying their opponents a losing bonus if they are to reach the quarter-finals.

“It’s cool,” he said of the prospect of making his landmark appearance in the biggest game of his career to date.

“I’ll be very honoured to get my 50th cap at the weekend. It was something I probably felt wouldn’t come. Then all of a sudden it has crept up on me so I will certainly enjoy the experience.”

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Kinghorn has scored 14 tries since making his Scotland debut five-and-a-half years ago.

His versatility has meant he has been deployed on the wing, at stand-off and at full-back throughout his international career, although he now appears to be settling into the number 15 jersey vacated by Stuart Hogg, who retired earlier this year.

Kinghorn admitted he has not yet hit the heights he expects of himself on a consistent basis for the national team.

“Peaks and troughs, I think,” he said when asked to reflect on his Scotland career so far.

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“When I got my debut in that first Six Nations, I was having a really good time and covering maybe just wing.

“That summer tour I moved maybe more to full-back, then found myself starting on the wing for a little period of time then Duhan (Van Der Merwe) came along and kind of ruined that for me!

“There’s been up and downs. I’ve moved position a couple of times. I went to 10 for a bit but I feel like I’m really at home now back in that 15 jersey.

“I feel like I have not really showed how good I can be in my first 50 caps. I don’t take any cap for granted but I’ll certainly be looking to prove what I can do for the next wee while.”

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Kinghorn is confident Scotland can get the result they need to prolong their World Cup campaign beyond this weekend.

“We don’t have a choice, it’s win or go home,” he said. “Everyone is pumped for it.

“You want to be playing in the biggest games possible and this is one of the biggest game possible for us.

“It’s a great opportunity. There are nerves about it, but it will be great atmosphere, great evening.

“We have got to be defensively sound as we know Ireland have a very good structure the way they play. We have got to get our attack clicking as I feel when we do, we can beat anyone.

“We need to do our thing and what better place to do it if we do?”

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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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