Sunday 15 September 2019

Scotland aim to hit ground running in Nice

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend. Photo: PA
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend. Photo: PA

Ireland's opening World Cup opponents Scotland will play their first pre-season game this evening (8.0) as they travel to France looking to hit the ground running, writes Cian Tracey.

Saracens centre Duncan Taylor will make his first appearance in two years after serious knee and ankle injuries and he is included in an exciting back-line, which also includes the like of Stuart Hogg, Darcy Graham and Adam Hastings.

There is also a welcome return for John Barclay and the flanker's presence in the back-row certainly bolsters Scotland's threat.

Ireland will take on Gregor Townsend's side in Yokohama on September 22. Joe Schmidt will be keeping a close eye on events in Nice from his squad's camp in Portugal.

"A huge amount of work has gone in throughout the past two months in order to deliver our best level of performance in the Rugby World Cup," Townsend said.

"We've enjoyed seeing the players working hard and becoming closer as a team in our camp."

Fijian-born winger Alivereti Raka and back-row Francois Cros are in line to win their first caps for Les Bleus, who have recalled Camille Lopez at out-half.

Elsewhere, New Zealand will be looking to bounce back from last weekend's thumping defeat to Australia as they host the Wallabies in Eden Park (8.35am).

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Experienced pair Owen Franks and Ben Smith have been dropped with the likes of Sonny Bill Williams as well as wingers Sevu Reece and George Bridge handed a chance to impress ahead of the World Cup.

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