Scotland unconcerned by throwing Jaco Van Der Walt straight into line-up

PA

Scotland assistant coach Mike Blair has no concerns about throwing Jaco Van Der Walt straight into the side for Saturday’s Autumn Nations Cup play-off against Ireland.

The South Africa-born Edinburgh fly-half qualified for Scotland on residency in the middle of November but only joined up with the squad last week after returning from his wedding in his native country.

But Blair does not see it as a risk, saying: “Not at all. It’s been a funny period for our 10s. I think he’s the fifth player to be playing at 10 if you include Hoggy (Stuart Hogg) there as well.

“It’s a great opportunity for us. It’s someone who we feel will suit our style of play, someone who’s got good confidence the way he’s played with Edinburgh and it’s a brilliant option.

“You learn a fair amount about someone coming off the bench but someone starting the game, how they hold themselves, how they prepare for a game, how they perform in a game – giving Jaco that number 10 jersey is great for him and it’s great for us to see how he performs and takes on that role.”

The winner will finish third in the tournament behind England and France and give themselves momentum going into the Six Nations in the new year.

Ireland have come in for criticism for their performances after defeat by England and an unconvincing victory over Georgia.

Blair sees things differently but hopes Scotland have saved the best for last in terms of their displays.

He said: “I think Ireland would see themselves ahead of us, certainly in the world rankings, but we feel that we’ve done well this campaign without ever really showing what we’re capable of doing.

“This Ireland team, you look down the team sheet, this is a quality team. The messages coming out in the media about (them) not being confident, I think they’ll be confident with the selection they’ve got, playing at the Aviva, and I think they’ll be looking forward to the game as much as we are.”

Scotland's Stuart Hogg (centre) will not worry if there is not too much running rugby on show
Scotland's Stuart Hogg (centre) will not worry if there is not too much running rugby on show

There has been a lot of talk about the style of rugby on show across the tournament and the dominance of a kicking game.

Captain Hogg admits style is well down the priority list for Saturday, saying: “We’ve all been involved in games that are hugely exciting, there’s line breaks for fun, scoring tries, but sometimes we haven’t won those games and sometimes you have to win ugly.

“We know that we’re capable of scoring tries but I don’t care how we play as long as we’re winning Test matches. It might not be to everybody’s taste but it’s all about who doesn’t crack first, doing the basic things time and time again.”

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