USA v Scotland: Vern Cotter lifts lid on excited camp

USA v Scotland: Vern Cotter says his squad are excited ahead of their Test in Houston on Sunday

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter Photo: Zegreg, via Wikimedia

Vern Cotter has revealed an excitement in the Scotland ahead of their match with the USA on Sunday.

The New Zealander took over the reins of the national team this month after eight years at Clermont Auvergne and has quickly set about nurturing a culture and pathway for next year’s Rugby World Cup in England, naming three debutants in his first starting XV.

There are only a certain number of opportunities remaining for players to express and prove themselves

Vern Cotter

“There’s a lot of excitement within the team leading into this Test,” Cotter said.

“There are players who are going to earn their first cap for Scotland, and there are those who see this as a chance to stake a claim for the Rugby World Cup squad in 2015, as there are only a certain number of opportunities remaining for players to express and prove themselves.”

Glasgow Warriors duo Finn Russell and Gordon Reid have the chance to stake a claim for the Rugby World Cup squad after impressive performances as they helped the Scottish club to the RaboDirect Pro12 final last month.

“We need to look at our options in decision making and game-controlling and Finn has been playing very well of late for Glasgow Warriors, and this is a good chance for him,” Cotter added.

“I like what he offers. He seems a composed young lad for a 21-year-old, who controls games and will obviously grow in this position as he develops.

“Gordon has also impressed with Glasgow. He offers size and mobility and it’ll be interesting to see what he brings to the forward engagement, outside of the set piece.

“I want to see somebody who’s aggressive, who cleans out, who carries and shifts bodies, so this is Gordon’s opportunity to show us what he can do in those areas of the game.”

Unlike his predecessor Scott Johnson, who during his tenure interim charge of the national side switched captain Kelly Brown from the blindside, Cotter has made clear he wants a natural openside flanker with injuries to a trio of opensides giving London Irish flanker Blair Cowan his debut against the Eagles.

“He’s an out-and-out seven,” Cotter said of Cowan. “He’s quick on his feet, can carry, and is quick over the ball.

“We’re looking for a genuine seven who gives us options, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do on the paddock after playing well for Scotland A earlier this year.”

Despite the USA being ranked eight places below 10th-place Scotland, Cotter’s charges will have to cope with the heat and humidity in Houston as well as a side packed with Aviva Premiership experience which is expected to provide an early test ahead of the Rugby World Cup when Scotland will face the USA, Japan, Samoa and South Africa.

“I think it’s important that we have a very physical approach to the game,” Cotter said.

“We’re in for a tough Test because they come out quickly in defence to try and stress you, so we’ll have to keep composure under that kind of pressure.

“If they come out of the line I want the players looking up and seeing what’s in front of us.

“We’re on a dry track and we want to put speed into our game. We want to be able to play, and play across the park, as well as be intelligent with the way we use the ball.

“It’s a matter of communicating, staying calm and focused on our game, and the game we want to develop.”

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