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New skipper all fired up to lead Scots at Aviva

By Andy Newport

Henry Pyrgos admits finding out he would captain Scotland against Ireland on Saturday was the proudest moment of his life.

The 26-year-old has been selected by head coach Vern Cotter to lead Scotland as they kick off their World Cup preparations.

But Glasgow scrum-half Pyrgos knows he must prove he is not bottom of the pecking order in the battle for the number nine jersey.

The match in Dublin is Pyrgos' big chance to stake a claim for a place in Scotland's final 31-man squad for the tournament.

Greig Laidlaw not only held the scrum-half slot during this year's RBS 6 Nations but also captained the side.

His former Edinburgh understudy Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, meanwhile, has blossomed since Laidlaw moved to Gloucester last summer and was named Guinness Pro12 young player of the year.

"It's how it is going to go," said Dorset-born Pyrgos when asked about the scrum-half fight.

"Greig has been starting obviously and Sam has been coming off the bench so (talk of them being favourites to start at the World Cup) is always going to be the case.

"I won the Pro12 (with Glasgow) but I wasn't there with Scotland. However, I was happy with the way I finished the season. It was an amazing experience with Glasgow and that has put all the Glasgow guys in a good position.

"But ultimately we are all starting from scratch again now.

"The competition in training is pretty fierce and I'm just lucky to be involved. Now I've got the opportunity to play, do well and put down the first marker.

"Vern has already spelled out that every jersey, from one to 15, is still up for grabs. He wants to see people improve in training and in games. If you do that you are putting yourself in a great position to get a shirt at the World Cup."

Pyrgos has captained his club side on three previous occasions and believes he can handle the responsibility of leading the team out at the Aviva Stadium.

"It's amazing," he said. "I didn't expect to be in this situation but finding out about this is the proudest day of my life.

"My family are thrilled but I want to justify it by going out and putting on a good performance."

Scotland - who will also warm up for their Pool B opener with Japan on September 23 with home and away clashes with Italy and a trip to Paris to face France - will return to action five months after ending a miserable Six Nations campaign with a 41-10 thumping from title winners Ireland.

It was another day to forget from a squad which lost all five games.

"I don't think the guys will get bogged down trying to settle scores," he said. "We all understand it was a really disappointing result.

"We've spoken about that. It wasn't the way we wanted to finish. Ireland are a quality team and we need to focus on our own roles and try to put it together for a good performance."

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