Anger alone won't save Scotland's World Cup
WORLD CUP SPOTLIGHT: Finn Russell has warned Scotland they will need more than anger and frustration to revive their World Cup campaign after a woeful start.
The Scots were outplayed completely during a 3-27 defeat by Ireland in their Pool A opener on Sunday and they have since lost flank Hamish Watson and scrumhalf Ali Price to tournament-ending injuries.
That reverse left Scotland needing to win their three remaining group matches against Samoa, Russia and Japan in order to reach the quarterfinals.
Samoa, 34-9 winners over Russia in their opening game, are next up for the Scots in Kobe on Monday and Russell has no doubts his side will raise their game.
“I think the players this week will be mentally and physically in the right place,” he told reporters at the squad’s hotel on Wednesday. “I believe we will come out with some fire in the belly.”
But the playmaker said passion alone would be insufficient, adding: “If we try to play and win on frustration and anger, it’s not going to happen.
“We need to stick to our structure, stick to what we do and not think we’re going to beat them on frustration and anger.
“That’s not how you win international Test matches.”
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) September 25, 2019
‘Ireland game is gone’
Meanwhile, Scotland defence coach Matt Taylor struggled to explain the lacklustre showing against Ireland.
“We can’t put our finger on it,” he said. “If I knew the answers I’d be able to turn it around directly and make sure it never happens again.”
The Australian added: “I’m frustrated, everybody is frustrated. But we have got to move on. The Ireland game is gone. If we dwell on that, it seeps into Samoa.”
Samoa, narrowly beaten 38-44 by Scotland when they last met at Murrayfield in 2017, could be without centre Rey Lee-Lo and hooker Motu Matu’u on Monday after the pair were cited for foul play against Russia.
“It will be a tough game for us and mentally we have to front up for the big shots coming at us,” said Russell.
Scotland’s preference is for an attacking, handling game but they may need to look at alternatives to try-scoring, such as drop goals, to get points on the board.
Russell, though, has yet to land a drop goal in senior Rugby Union.
“I’ve tried a few in my career and never got one,” admitted Russell, who plays his club rugby for Paris-based Racing Metro.
“I need a bit of practice.”
This World Cup has already seen some well-struck drop goals, with France edging past Argentina 23-21 thanks to Camille Lopez’s effort.
“France won when Lopez hit the drop-kick and South Africa hit one as well,” said Russell. It’s a great way to get three points if you can do it.
“It’s something I’ll have in the back of my mind if we need it at the end of the game, or just to potentially get an advantage somewhere in their half to have a go.
“I’ll be practising it, I’ve had a few shots and not got it, so hopefully the next one I’ll get.”