Scotland ready for South Africa test on Saturday, says John Dalziel

FORWARDS coach John Dalziel says that the Scotland team to take on South Africa this Saturday will almost certainly feature changes from the side which defeated Australia last Sunday – but not because players have been ruled out by injury. 

Dalziel revealed yesterday that the damaged rib suffered by hooker George Turner in the 10th minute of the Wallaby match does not appear to be as severe as initially feared, and with Stuart McInally also set to come back into the mix following an illness last week, there is a good chance that Ewan Ashman could drop out. 

The 21-year-old celebrated his international debut in style, scoring a spectacular try in that 15-13 win over Australia, but against arguably the most respected and feared forward units in world rugby, but he is still listed as an academy player at Sale Sharks and has played only 12 senior pro matches so far in his fledgling career. 

Ashman has established himself as a player with a big future, who is already capable of competing on the international stage, but it would be a big ask for him to front-up again versus the might of South Africa just six days after playing 70 minutes against Australia. 

Meanwhile, second-row Scott Cummings is also expected to be in the frame when the team to face South Africa is announced on Thursday after missing the first two matches of this Autumn Test series whilst rehabbing from an operation on his arm at the start of October. 

“There were a few knocks and bruises [after the Australia game], but we had some pleasing news this morning, to realise that nothing is as major as we thought last night,” said Dalziel yesterday. 

“The guys will get through recovery protocols and medical checkouts today, but we have now massive concerns at all. Fingers crossed nothing develops later in the day. 

“George came off having felt a rib in a scrum, which can be uncomfortable, a pretty sharp pain,” he added. “But there’s been a huge turnaround with him this morning and he’s bouncing about as normal. George is a resilient character and its good news. We’re pretty sure he’s going to turn it around quicker than we thought yesterday.”  

There is an obvious temptation to reward the players who got the job done against the world’s third ranked team, in the cut-throat world of professional rugby, nobody’s place in the team is guaranteed. 

“We’ve got to pick the right team to complement the challenges we’ll face against South Africa,” stated Dalziel. “They are very different to Australia who have that attack focus and want to play a lot of rugby, whereas with the South Africans it is a physical battle. Straight up and down. They are coming straight through the front door at us. 

“So, tactically, and selection-wise, we’ll look at that. A lot of guys who were maybe quieter in that Tonga game [two weekends ago] have now put their hand up and performed. But when you look around the squad there may be guys who weren’t involved at the weekend who might be suited to this challenge, so no doubt there could be and probably will be a few changes around that. 

“The squad is growing all the time, and we’re blessed as coaches to have the group we’ve got now through the good work which is going on at the pro teams and through the age grades,” he added. 

“We’re able to keep building on that and young players are bouncing off each other. We’re seeing that if one player goes to the next level then we’ve got more players looking to push beyond that.  Nobody is comfortable in any position.  

“We’ve got real quality players missing out on selection, and it is hard for us to try and pick the right team for the right opposition now, while making sure that we are keeping everyone hungry, and making sure that people are getting opportunities when they deserve it.”  

Despite the magnitude of the challenge Scotland face on Saturday Dalziel insisted that the team will go into the match believing they have nothing to fear. 

“I’ve been lucky enough to work with these players for a number of years, from the under-20s onwards,” he said. “I’ve seen them grow as men and it’s outstanding, the high standards they hold with each other.  

“As a group, they deal with setbacks, know the path they’re on, and there is no ceiling. They want to grow and become that Scotland team that is consistent, that can win on the big occasion more often.  

“They’re very humble and realise we’re at the start of the process. It’s a young group with loads of growth to come. We’ll keep building towards that. 

“They want to make the 60 or 70 thousand people, as well as everyone watching at home, proud every time they pull on the jersey.  

“It’s a great group to work with.” 

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