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Paterson defends tartan imports

Scotland's most-capped player Chris Paterson has defended head coach Vern Cotter's decision to call up the latest batch of tartan imports.

Glasgow back-rower Josh Strauss and Edinburgh prop WP Nel, both born in South Africa, have been named in Cotter's provisional 46-man World Cup squad despite the fact they will only qualify to wear the Dark Blue jersey through residency rules a matter of days before the tournament kicks off in England.

On Thursday, 1984 Grand Slam-winning scrum-half Roy Laidlaw launched a scathing attack on the IRB regulations which allow foreign-born players to migrate to national teams after just a three-year stay.

But Paterson dismissed suggestions that bringing international players into the Scotland squad could damage the prospects for young domestic players.

"It's a law that's there and almost everybody uses it," said Paterson, speaking at the Edinburgh leg of the World Cup trophy tour, where families gathered at Murrayfield to get photos with the famous trophy and some of the stars of the game.

"Whoever takes the field is going to give everything that they have for their country.

"If you want to progress in any sport, or any walk of life, you have got to work hard for it and if you are determined enough and work hard enough then you will give yourself the opportunity.

"We have just left 200 kids in North Berwick playing, around 300 in Jedburgh yesterday, then we go up to Cupar where there is a really successful youth scheme.

"We're going to Aberdeen, Inverness and Orkney so if we see this everywhere we go, which I have no doubt we will, the building blocks of the future are in good place."

But retired full-back Paterson - capped a record 109 times for his country - admits Scotland's immediate prospects are not looking quite so promising.

Scottish Rugby chief executive Mark Dodson put a World Cup win as his number-one aim when he launched a four-year plan back in 2012.

But after watching Cotter's team suffer a humiliating RBS 6 Nations whitewash earlier this year, Paterson admitted the Kiwi's squad was in for "one of the biggest challenges of their lives".

Scotland kick-off their campaign against Japan in Gloucester on September 23 before taking on the United States in Leeds four days later, with two decisive matched against South Africa and Samoa scheduled for October 3 and 10 at St James' Park in Newcastle.

Quizzed on whether Scotland can win the cup, he said: "It's a big ask, isn't it?

"I think there's so many teams now that could win it, and I think the number of teams that could win it is greater than it has ever been.

"There's more close games compared with 20 years ago when there would be big scores.

"You have to take it one step at a time and deal with what's in front of you.

"Physically it's a difficult group, but if the lads play to their potential I believe that we can get out of the group and into knock-out rugby.

"Historically Scotland can win big games so we'll keep our fingers crossed.

"All of our opponents are tough, and if you've played international rugby you will know that every game is tough.

"First up is Japan, who are physical, well organised, well drilled, superbly well coached by an international coach. They will tackle you low, they will chop down your momentum.

"Then there's the USA who have just won the Twickenham leg of the World Series Sevens Championship, which will give them experience of winning silverware at a major level and a lot of those players will be involved.

"Then you have got South Africa who are one of the favourites, and Samoa who, if they keep their best players fit, can challenge anyone in the world.

"So who is our biggest challenge? The first game, simple. Deal with that and then deal with what comes after."

Paterson believes the squad is working hard to overcome their Six Nations shortcomings.

He said: "When they meet on Monday to start training they will be physically, mentally, technically and tactically preparing for one of the biggest challenges of their lives.

"You learn everyday from mistakes and positives.

"You've got a core of the team from Glasgow who are doing phenomenally well in winning the Guinness Pro12 so that edge will help.

"The Edinburgh guys reached the European Challenge Cup final, so we've got excellent guys who are playing well in big clubs."


From Belfast Telegraph