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Grant hoping to hold down spot

There are still 43 days to go until Scotland kick-off their World Cup bid but as far as Ryan Grant is concerned, his tournament gets under way in Dublin on Saturday.

The Glasgow prop hopes to be named in head coach Vern Cotter's line-up for the warm-up Test with Ireland at the Aviva Stadium.

The meeting with Joe Schmidt's men is the first of four international clashes which will take place before the Dark Blues' Pool B opener with Japan in Gloucester on September 23.

Scotland also face home and away fixtures with Italy before a trip to Paris where they will take on France.

That intense schedule is designed to allow Cotter as much scope as possible while scaling his 47-man pre-tournament squad down to the list of 31 he will be allowed to take with him to England.

And for that reason, Grant knows he must make as big an impact as he can when he crosses the Irish Sea this weekend.

"We've got a big squad right now and it's got to get cut down by quite a few players, so this is definitely the start of the World Cup for us," the 29-year-old admitted.

"The next step is selection and when we get the chance to represent ourselves, that is our chance to show we have the tools required. Hopefully I can do that against Ireland.

"Any time you play for Scotland, there is somebody champing at the bit right behind you, ready to take your jersey off you.

"Because we have all been here training together for so long, there is that extra edge. You can see what the other guys are doing.

"I don't know if fear is the right word to describe it but there is definitely a drive that isn't present in any other competition.

"Because we are spending so much time together and seeing what the others have to offer, it does drive you on. If there is a player here who can do something better than I can, then I am going to strive to improve."

Facing Ireland again will only bring back painful memories for Grant and the other 14 players who started Scotland's last international back in March.

On that occasion they rounded off a miserable RBS 6 Nations campaign with their fifth straight defeat as Schmidt's team clinched with title with a 41-10 drubbing.

It was an afternoon in which those in dark blue compounded one mistake with another and then another.

But former British and Irish Lion Grant - who made his only start of the Championships at Murrayfield that day - insists Cotter's side have learned their lesson.

"We spoke this morning about the importance of not making mistake after mistake," he said.

"Mistakes happen in rugby but a good thing to do is to just flush it away. Move on, forget about it. We are good rugby players, that's why we are here.

"I think we have been guilty in the past of getting frantic after a couple of mistakes and capitulating a bit. But that's just some boys trying too hard to rescue the situation.

"We're a bit more relaxed this time around and we know making a mistake isn't the end of the world and we can flush it and move on."

Cotter gathered his team together in mid-June and put them through eight weeks of gruelling prep work.

The players are now excited to finally have a game to focus on but Grant also believes that arduous training camp has only helped foster team unity.

He said: "Scotland is a small place and there are only the guys from the two pro teams and a handful of exiles to make up the squad, so we are all close.

"We all spend a lot of time together and the guys that have come from down south all mix really well with us.

"These are all great boys - they're not just my team-mates, they're my mates.

"There's nothing better on a rugby pitch than playing alongside and for your friends. Hopefully you can see that closeness on the pitch."


From Belfast Telegraph