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Dan McFarland says Scotland fully focused on beating Italy

Defeat to Ireland on Saturday means Scotland can only finish as high as third in this year’s tournament.

There will be no let up in the intensity of training as Scotland prepare to face Italy in the finale of the NatWest 6 Nations, says forwards coach Dan McFarland.

Defeat to Ireland on Saturday means Scotland can only finish as high as third in this year’s tournament, which comes to an end this weekend after an indifferent few weeks for the Dark Blues.

Gregor Townsend’s side head to Rome to face an Italy side battling to avoid the wooden spoon and the head coach has freshened things up in the final week of training by adding five new faces to the squad.

Youngsters Scott Cummings, Matt Fagerson and Adam Hastings – son of former skipper Gavin Hastings – are the three uncapped players added to the squad, while Matt Scott and Richie Vernon also return, the latter after a year out injured.

Despite the addition of fresh faces, McFarland insists they are not taking it easy before heading to Rome this week and says they must treat it like any other game.

“It’s about winning a Test match and winning our third game in the championship,” he said. “It’s about focusing on going to Italy and playing against a proud nation who desperately want to win a match in the championship this year.

“We are fully aware that this is another Six Nations game.

“Everybody knows how competitive the Six Nations has been so far and we see a stern test ahead of us.”

He added: “There are threats there and we are fully aware of them, they have a good tradition of forward play which is at the forefront of my mind.

“They have some class players so we will have our eyes firmly on the ball.”

The arrival of Cummings, Fagerson, Hastings, Scott and Vernon into camp mean seven players drop out, with Ben Toolis, Magnus Bradbury, Cornell du Preez, John Hardie, Mark Bennett, Alex Dunbar and Henry Pyrgos all released to club duty.

Although the new arrivals may be restricted to a learning brief in the next few days, McFarland insists they were selected on form but revealed some of the released players would return to strengthen Edinburgh in the Guinness PRO14 on Friday night.

Explaining the changes, he said: “It’s making sure the PRO teams have a good spread of players for their games, that’s very important for us to support them but at the same time not compromise our preparations.

“It’s about getting in guys on form and getting a look at them, but also helping out the PRO teams as well.”

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