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Ryan Wilson: Off-field issues behind me

Published 03/09/2015

Vern Cotter, pictured, caused controversy by picking New Zealand-born John Hardie in his World Cup squad
Vern Cotter, pictured, caused controversy by picking New Zealand-born John Hardie in his World Cup squad

Scotland flanker Ryan Wilson insists he will not repeat the mistakes which landed him in the dock and left his World Cup dreams hanging by a thread.

The Glasgow Warrior feared a potential jail sentence after being found guilty of a kebab shop assault on Glasgow Hawks player Ally McLay during a Halloween night out in October 2013.

However, the 25-year-old - who was dressed as batman at the time of the incident - was instead handed a £750 fine at Glasgow Sheriff Court in January this year.

The Scottish Rugby Union also issued its own punishment as the Aldershot-born back-rower was suspended without pay for three months and banned from representing the Dark Blues until the end of August.

But he was back in Cotter's line-up for last weekend's 48-7 thrashing of Italy and after securing a place in the 31-man squad which will travel to the World Cup, will again start when the team round off their tournament preparations against France in Paris this Saturday.

Wilson said: "It's good to be back. All that stuff has been put behind me. It was put behind me last season when I got a good run out with Glasgow.

"Did I ever fear this day would never come again? Nah, not so much. I've made mistakes and I regret the whole situation but I'm quite a positive person.

"I kept it in the back of my head that it would come again. You just never know how long you'll have to wait. But I think I've trained and played well enough to merit it.

"I had a lot of time to think and train [while I was banned]. I've come back a better player - stronger and faster - but also a more mature person.

"I've learned from what happened and there's no way I'll ever be put in the position again, that's for sure. All I want to do now is represent my country."

Wilson is not the only controversial figure who will feature for Scotland this weekend, with kilted Kiwi John Hardie also given the chance to justify his selection.

The New Zealand-born flanker landed a shock place in Vern Cotter's England 2015 group at the expense of in-form duo Blair Cowan and John Barclay.

The 27-year-old - who qualifies for the Dark Blues thanks to his Fife-born grandparents - only touched down on Scottish soil for the first time five weeks ago and has less than an hour of international Test action under his belt.

His selection was met by an outcry from the likes of former British and Irish Lions prop Peter Wright, who dubbed the snub to native Scots talent a "disgrace".

Hardie will now be under pressure to perform when Cotter's men take on Les Bleus at the Stade de France in their final warm-up clash before kicking off their tournament against Japan in Gloucester on September 23.

Cotter knows not everyone will agree with his selection but said: "That's their right, isn't it? Everybody has got an opinion. We are just focusing on what we think is the best thing to do to move forward. I don't expect everybody to agree.

"We have some ideas on how we would like to play and the people who can help us do that. And yes we've named 31 but I'm sure we'll have to call on a few more during the tournament."

Hardie's inclusion is one of five changes to the side which thrashed Italy at BT Murrayfield at the weekend.

Sean Maitland starts at full-back while wing Tommy Seymour is also welcomed after both missed Scotland's previous pre-tournament Tests against Ireland and the Azzurri through injury

Centre Matt Scott comes in for Peter Horne to start alongside Mark Bennett in the remaining change to the back division, while lock Richie Gray takes Grant Gilchrist's slot.

Full-back Stuart Hogg and utility back Peter Horne both appeared at Wednesday's squad announcement wearing protective boots but Cotter played down fears they could miss the Japan clash.

He said: "It's more of a precaution with Hoggy than anything else. With Peter Horne he should be back on the paddock by next week.

"It was a 10 to 15-day injury and we are very optimistic they will be back running around next week."

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