Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Vernon wants to book World Cup spot

Richie Vernon

Scotland number eight Richie Vernon hopes to run Italy ragged in the EMC Test at Murrayfield to earn his Rugby World Cup place.

The 24-year-old, who moved from Glasgow Warriors to Sale Sharks over the summer, is set to start in the final World Cup warm-up match and is determined to impress. Scotland head coach Andy Robinson is poised to name his final 30-man squad on Monday, with back row an area where competition is fierce.

Vernon told Press Association Sport: "I'll be looking to get my hands on the ball, try and be as dangerous as I can, hopefully break some tackles and get through a few gaps."

He added: "If I can do that hopefully it will put me forward for a place on that plane."

Johnnie Beattie, Ross Rennie and Alasdair Strokosch began the 10-6 win over Ireland a fortnight ago and Vernon was impressed.

"I thought the back row played really well," he said. "That made it a big challenge this week for me to live up to those heights. Hopefully we can play even better this weekend."

Vernon will be joined by Kelly Brown and John Barclay in the back row against Italy. Brown and Barclay, barring injury, are near certainties to be included in the World Cup squad, while Rennie proved a capable deputy for Barclay at openside flanker.

Vernon, Beattie and Strokosch could be playing for two places, with Robinson also having previously deployed lock Nathan Hines in the back row and youngsters David Denton and Rob Harley likely out of the reckoning.

Like Vernon, Nick De Luca hopes to grasp his opportunity. The Edinburgh centre is out to prove his match-winning intervention in setting up Joe Ansbro's try against Ireland was not a one off.

The 27-year-old said: "I was very happy with my contribution. But I don't want to be a super-sub or anything. I want to put in a good performance and try and get on that plane and then a starting jersey. I'm desperate to get out there and play in a World Cup."