Scotland expect surprises from Italy in heat of Singapore

Dan McFarland
Dan McFarland
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Scotland are ready for surprises when they take on Italy in the humidity of Singapore today, according to forwards coach Dan McFarland.

The oppressive climate is likely to pose almost as great a problem as the opposition themselves, but McFarland says it is a challenge his team will relish.

“You want to put yourself under pressure, you want to do something different,” he said.

“In the same way that guys who like to climb mountains don’t just want to climb Ben Nevis every day, they are going to test themselves on something else, something more difficult; they don’t whinge when Mount Everest is put in front of them. The bigger the challenge, the bigger the story afterwards.”

All the players and coaches are desperate to get the new Scotland set-up, with fresh coaches and players, off to a winning start. Despite the heat, the plan is to step up the speed of their game even more to accomplish that.

“It’s a good challenge,” added McFarland.

“It is exciting from my point of view, a first Test match as a coach, so my expectations of intensity are pretty high.

“You can see in the players that feeling of anticipation that comes from representing your country.

“As far as the game itself is concerned, Italy have shown the kind of rugby they can play. The have not always got the results their ability has merited, we expect them to be playing at a high level so we will have to play at a higher level to beat it.”

For skipper John Barclay, the key is to take the patterns established under the previous regime of Vern Cotter and add to them under new boss Gregor Townsend.

“Under Vern we played quick rugby as well,” he said.

“The intensity was high under him, he understood as a nation that is how we have to play. That is how Gregor played at Glasgow and he has placed more of an emphasis on it. This is how we want to play.”

For Italy captain Eduardo Gori, there is a whiff of revenge in the air after his side were whitewashed at Murrayfield at the end of the RBS Six Nations earlier this year.

“That was a very bad defeat, but it will help us with our performance in this game,” he said.

“It is going to be a very demanding match, Scotland have improved hugely over the last few years, but our goal, as always, is to give our best and win the game for Italy.”

Meanwhile, Edinburgh Rugby’s Lewis Carmichael has been called up to train with the Scotland squad.

The 22-year-old lock has joined up with the squad from Australian side Western Force where he’s been on a short-term loan as part of a development agreement that began in March.

Townsend said: “We’ve watched Lewis closely over the last few weeks and it’s been great to see how quickly he’s settled in to Super Rugby level. He’s been getting better and better with each game.”