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Forwards hold key - Robinson

Scotland head coach Andy Robinson is looking for his forwards to lay the foundation for victory in Saturday's EMC Test against Italy, the final Rugby World Cup warm-up clash.

Robinson hopes a new eight-man pack, led by captain Alastair Kellock, can provide the forward momentum for Scotland to deliver in a match which is vital preparation for the September 10 clash with Romania in Invercargill.

He said: "They (Italy) have a very good set-piece and the forwards have the potential to be one of the top forward packs in world rugby. Possession at the set-piece is going to be really contested. We're going to have to be at our very best to win the ball and supply some ball for us to be able to attack off."

He added: "They do have the potential to destroy teams with their forward power and I think that is similar to those teams (Romania and Georgia).

"On their day if you're not able to play through the forwards, they will beat you."

Scotland triumphed against Ireland despite a below-par showing and this weekend's match against the Azzurri offers players the opportunity to stake their claim for not just a squad place in New Zealand, but also a starting spot.

Asked the reason for the number of changes, Robinson said: "It was to give people an opportunity to put their hand up for the World Cup and get into the starting XV - not just about getting in the 30-man squad.

"I rested a number of players before the Ireland match to look at some combinations and now a number of those players - Kelly Brown, Nathan Hines, John Barclay and Al Kellock - come into the starting line-up."

The back row - where Barclay and Brown will be joined by Richie Vernon - and half-back combinations will be intriguing, given they are competitive areas in the squad.

Mike Blair is to start at scrum-half, with Dan Parks his half-back partner. It will be Parks' first start at fly-half since February's loss to Wales as he seeks to reclaim the number 10 jersey on a permanent basis from Ruaridh Jackson.


From Belfast Telegraph