Scotland expect Boks to come 'straight through the front door'
INTERVIEW: The focus this week will be on Scotland’s South African imports, but bringing age-grade players through is the real success story.
Forwards coach John Dalziel believes in-form Scotland has a conveyor belt of top-level talent that should stand them in good stead for the 2023 World Cup.
Gregor Townsend’s burgeoning side pulled off another huge win over on Sunday, following up on historic Six Nations victories over England and France earlier this year.
The national team is widely deemed to be in its best shape for decades, with a core of experienced senior players joined by an array of fresh additions to the squad.
Dalziel feels everything is bubbling along nicely with regard to gearing up for the World Cup in France in a little under two years.
“The squad is growing all the time. As coaches, we’re blessed to have the group we’ve got just now,” he said.
“There’s a lot of good work going on in terms of bringing age-grade players through and we’re able to keep building on that.
“Good players are bouncing off each other, seeing that if one player goes to the next level, we’ve got more players trying to push beyond that.
“Nobody is comfortable in any position. We’ve got real quality players missing out on selection.
“It’s hard for us to pick the right team for the right opposition now and make sure that we keep everybody hungry by bleeding youngsters, like we did at the weekend with Ewan Ashman and Josh Bayliss, to build up the depth over the next 18 months as we go towards the next World Cup.
“Like every team out there, we’re in an important part of the cycle now because we’re under two years to the World Cup which everybody wants to build towards.
“We’re really blessed that we’ve already started that process so we’re ahead of the game.
“Through this last year we’ve been able to identify a lot of younger players who merit involvement.
“We had eight new caps against Tonga and another two this past Sunday, so there’s 10 new players to add to the mix. We’ve got a couple of other lads around the squad who may well still be capped in this window.
“In any period like the autumn, if we can cap 10-plus players and still have important wins against top-three opposition, that’s excellent and shows we’re on the right path.”
With such a depth of quality available, Scotland is likely to make some tweaks to the team for this Saturday’s Murrayfield showdown with world champions South Africa.
Dalziel said: “We’ve got to pick the right team that will complement the challenges we’ll face against South Africa, which will be very different to Australia.
“Australia, with that attack focus they’ve got, are a team that wants to play a lot of rugby and they give you a lot to look at whereas with the South Africans, it’s a physical battle.
“They’re coming straight through the front door at us.
“Tactically and selection-wise we will look at that.
“Certainly as we look around the squad, there may well be some guys who weren’t involved at the weekend who may be well-suited to this weekend, so there will probably be a couple of changes.”
Sources: PA & RugbyPass