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'Our game plan was set for South Africa': Fully-fit Scotland squad ready to go

By PA
Scotland players take part in a lap of honour after the pre-2023 World Cup warm-up rugby union match between Scotland and Georgia at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh on August 26, 2023. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP) (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Gregor Townsend revealed his relief that a gruelling summer warm-up campaign has not come at a cost as he touched down in France with a fully-fit Scotland squad ready to kick-off the World Cup.

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The Scots landed in Nice on Sunday evening before heading to their training base in the hills near Valbonne, just north of Cannes, to step up preparations for their opening game against South Africa in Marseille next Sunday.

Concern had surrounded free-scoring wing Darcy Graham after he missed the final warm-up match against Georgia last weekend with a thigh strain, while full-back Blair Kinghorn had also been nursing a minor issue but Townsend expects the Edinburgh pair to train fully this week.

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“It’s good that we’ve got on the plane together with no injuries, which is amazing when you think back a few weeks ago when we had a squad of 41 and were reducing it to 33,” said head coach Townsend, speaking to the PA news agency upon arrival at Nice Airport.

“We thought the four games (against Italy, France home and away, and Georgia), all tough Test matches, would result in injuries to our group, which hasn’t been the case.

“I’m really pleased that those players that played in those games have been able to make it to this stage. As we currently view things, they will all be good for Sunday.

“We don’t train until Tuesday but we believe Darcy will be training fully on Tuesday and available for selection. He trained with the medics on Thursday.

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“Blair’s recovered and we also expect him to train fully on Tuesday. From where I’m standing, we’ll have the full squad to pick from.”

Barring any fresh injuries in the coming days, Townsend has all but decided his starting XV to face the Springboks.

“I think I know what the XV is,” he said. “I’m just waiting until that session on Tuesday to see everybody training.

“The 23 is not decided. We’ll have a couple of meetings as coaches about what we feel is right. We’ve got individual decisions to make and then more a concept of whether it’s a 5/3 or a 6/2 bench we go for.”

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Scotland are in a pool with the two highest-ranked teams in the world in the shape of Ireland and South Africa but Townsend – without stating a specific target for the tournament – believes his team are equipped to meet his “very high expectations” in France.

“My hopes are obviously very high and my expectations of this team are very high because I know they can reach them,” he said. “We are focused on getting our best performance out against South Africa.

“We’ve been talking about that for weeks and months. It’s one reason why we went strong in three of our four (warm-up) games.

“A lot of the players that will be involved at the weekend have played together and trained together and built up a cohesion.

“A lot of what we’re doing in terms of our game plan was set for South Africa, so it’s a great opportunity to see how they go.

“We know there’s some real tests ahead of us in the next few weeks but this team is ready to go.”

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Comments

3 Comments
C
CT 292 days ago

I enjoy watching Scottish rugby they're a very competitive side and are up there with the best however Boks are pushing all the right buttons right now should be a great game -go Boks

S
Silk 292 days ago

Yes, I'm more worried about Scotland than Ireland. The Boks knows this and will be switched on for the game against Scotland. Will be a mighty arm wrestle. The Scots have always been a tough side to play for the Boks.
Go Bokke!

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