Gregor Townsend believes Scotland are set up to beat South Africa as he tells his side to seize the moment against the reigning world champions
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Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has told his players this is ‘our moment’ to make the world sit up and take notice by beating South Africa. He said all roads have been leading to the showdown with the defending world champions in the Stade Velodrome in Marseille.
‘Now is our moment with the team we have,’ he said. ‘We are set up to play our best rugby.’
Townsend has revealed his formula for success in the World Cup opener revolves around fly-half Finn Russell and wingers South Africa-born Duhan van der Merwe and Darcy Graham. ‘Stand-off is the most important position in a team and Finn is at the top of his game,’ he said.
‘We will never have the same size of players as South Africa, England or France, but we have players who are maybe quicker and fitter and we have to build our game around those strengths.
‘Finn is one of the best passers in the world so we have to get him passing. Our wingers Duhan and Darcy are great finishers so we have to get the ball in their hands. That means we have to play movement.’
Scotland coach Gregor Townsend is positive about his side’s chances in their World Cup Group B opener against South Africa
Townsend believes his side are set up to play their best rugby against the reigning world champions
He revealed that Scotland’s game plan revolves around fly-half Finn Russell and wingers Darcy Graham and Duhan van der Merwe
The importance of Graham to Scotland’s cause was shown by the lengths they went to get him fit after he picked up a leg injury recently — he had five sessions in a hyperbaric chamber where he breathed pure oxygen to speed up his recovery.
‘There was a wee doubt in my head when the injury happened when I was just running and I felt my quad muscle go,’ said Graham, who tore it at a Scotland training session three weeks ago.
‘I went to a hyperbaric chamber and I put an oxygen mask on and was breathing 100 per cent oxygen. They then dropped the pressure as it helps the healing process.’
Graham shares Townsend’s optimism about Scotland’s chances against South Africa. ‘Is it coming to the boil at the perfect time? Yes, probably. Everyone now knows their role — they never knew that at the last World Cup. Everything is laid out clearly.’
Graham, who has 19 tries for Scotland, eight short of record holder Stuart Hogg, says he hopes to use the World Cup matches to cut the deficit on the former captain.
‘Obviously, Hoggy has got the record and me and Duhan, who has 20 tries, are hunting him down. We’re pretty confident that we’re going to break it — it’s just about who’s going to do it first, so we’re having a wee competition between us.
‘Scoring tries is our job and we’ve got to take our chances. We might only get a couple of chances against South Africa but that is what we are there to do.’
Winger Darcy Graham has recovered from a leg injury and is set to start on Sunday
South Africa-born Duhan van der Merwe is on 20 tries, chasing down Stuart Hogg’s Scottish record
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