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Bennett has earned first cap the hard way

Vern Cotter knew Mark Bennett was international class as soon as he saw the new Scotland cap battle back from a devastating knee injury.

The Glasgow centre has long been tipped as a future star for the Dark Blues, but will finally make his bow for the national team when they take on Argentina at Murrayfield tomorrow.

However, the 21-year-old nearly saw his international dreams crumble during a year-long stint in France with Clermont.

New Scotland chief Cotter was head coach at the Top 14 outfit when they lured Bennett away from the Warriors - only to see him tear his anterior cruciate ligament soon after checking in at the Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin.

Bennett, though, gritted his teeth before fighting back to fitness and form after returning to Scotstoun, prompting Cotter to reward the Glasgow back with a starting slot against the Pumas.

The New Zealander - who has also paired brothers Richie and Jonny Gray together for the first time in the second row - said: "Mark didn't have it very easy at the start of his time in France.

"He was just 17 and it was his first time away from home. But that was when we saw that he had something.

"He picked up a serious injury. It required a complete knee reconstruction. For a player whose strength lies in changing direction and accelerating quickly, it was devastating.

"But the way he has bounced back is a reflection of the man - quiet and determined.

"He shouldn't feel any expectation on his shoulders. He has players around him who he is comfortable with and he will only be focusing on playing well.

"I'm pleased for him. I know he will grasp this opportunity with both hands."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph