Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend selected 14 of the 15 players who won in Paris in March (Adam Davy / PA)
By Anthony Brown, PA
Gregor Townsend has urged Scotland to embrace the spirit of Channeling Paris as they prepare to get Australia in shape in Sunday’s Autumn Nations Series clash.
The head coach is delighted to have named a team of 14 of the 15 players making the Six Nations Victory in March away from France, with the only missing injured Rory Sutherland.
It was the first time the Scots have won in Paris in 22 years, and although almost eight months have passed, Townsend is hoping it will the feel-good factor of this game can be expanded.
He said: “I couldn’t believe that 10 days ago we had all 15 players who started this game, but just like I told a coach e r mentioned, Rory Sutherland injured himself in training.
🏴 We introduce your Scotland team, which will compete against the @wallabies in the Autumn Nations Series 2021 in @BTMurrayfield on Sunday. Read more ➡️ https://t.co/uWMSceyfXV#AsOne | @herbstnations pic.twitter.com/kWpdMUauUp
“It’s a unique situation in rugby that we can choose from such a similar group. These players showed their togetherness and resilience in Paris. That was one of the best accomplishments I was involved in with this group, in terms of the way we started, how we made it, how we had to defend when we were down two times, and then we came back to win.
“Even though it’s been almost eight months, this group knows they’ve been a team before, a winning team. We’ll need the same determination, the same togetherness and the same rugby quality on Sunday to beat Australia. “
Scotland have only played one game since then – the routine 60-14 win over Tonga last weekend. Australia, however has managed to squeeze into 11 games since July and have won each of the last five. Townsend admits Australia could have an advantage in that regard.
He said, “It could be a problem. This is our first game with this team in over seven months. We played club-level games so the players were battle-tested, some more than others.
“The learning the Australians have been exposed to has been fantastic. They’ve played the All Blacks seven times in the past two years, they’ve played the World Champions twice, they’ve played Japan and Argentina – teams of different styles – so you’ll get better with these performances.
“We just have to try to build this solidarity immediately. We had two weeks of training and only one game with this group of players, but they seem to have bonded well. They exercised with energy and communication was good, which are usually positive signs that we’re going to get off to a positive start on Sunday. ”
Townsend made six changes to the team that led to the 10-attempt win over Tonga has, with Stuart Hogg, Duhan van der Merwe, Chris Harris, Finn Russell, Sam Skinner and Grant Gilchrist all added to the team.
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The head coach said he had several tough decisions to make, including dropping Kyle Steyn on the bench after his record four attempts last weekend.
He said, “Kyle was certainly in the selection, but I think it shows that what he did last week brought some rewards in front of other players like Huw Jones who was on the bench during the Six Nations. That was a difficult conversation because we had a few people in the mix for this bench seat, just like we had a few people in the mix for the starting positions.
“All selections are tough. You give each selection due time to ensure that you look at each one and discuss each position. On this page we picked 14 of the 15 players who faced France and it would have been 15 of 15 if Rory had been fit and available.
“You could look at it and say it , there wasn’t a lot of debate because the team hasn’t changed much, but we know it hasn’t. The players have had different experiences since that game in Paris.
“The players played very well last weekend, but we support this group of players. They have done a lot of good in the Six Nations and since then some of them have gained more experience that should make them even more rounded players and more confident test players.
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