Saturday 17 March 2018

Ford warns of Italy pack attack

Andy Newport

Scotland's browbeaten pack must prepare themselves for another test of their physicality and commitment this weekend, in-coming Scotland hooker Ross Ford has warned.

The Dark Blues take on Italy on Saturday in their second RBS 6 Nations clash just a week after they suffered a bruising 38-18 defeat to a powerful England side.

Interim Scotland head coach Scott Johnson laid into his meek forwards after the game at Twickenham, criticising their frail attempts at the breakdown as they won just 55 rucks and mauls, compared to an English tally which surpassed 100.

But Ford - who takes the injured Dougie Hall's number two jersey - insists those issues must be resolved ahead of the weekend when the burley Azzurri XV come to town.

He told Press Association Sport: "We won't get it any easier this weekend. Italy have a brilliant pack so we need to make sure we front up in the areas that England exposed against us.

"We've been working in training this week, trying to make sure that doesn't happen again.

"We need to put in a performance in those areas that allows us to play the way we want to play, on the front foot.

"It's about attitude and a few technical points. We've been drilling those for quite a while, two or three weeks now, so they should drummed into us.

"At the end of the day, it comes down to attitude. It's not about thinking about it. It's about going in and doing it - hitting things hard."

The frustrations over the Scot's inadequacies in the rough-and-tumble phases of the game were only made worse by the impressive running display from speedy backs like Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland and Tim Visser.

Hogg and Maitland both crossed over for tries in London and Ford realises the ability of them to create even more scoring opportunity is dependant on the forward bunch retaining swift possession at the breakdown.

He said: "All three of those guys showed that when they are in space, they are very dangerous.

"The more we can get them in space with the ball, the better for us it will be.

"It's great to have that choice and to hit them as many times as we can. We will try our very best to do that as often as possible on Saturday."

Ford was handed his chance after Hall was ruled out with a knee injury.

He may yet be fit enough to take a place on the bench against the Italians and Ford knows he must impress now while he has the starting slot.

"With Dougie's injury, I was fortunate to be given an opportunity to stake a claim," he said. "It's hard on Dougie, with him getting that injury, but I have got an opportunity so I just have to take it.

"It's my job to go out and be full-blooded. But now I just need to go out and do it."

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