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Ross Ford confident Scotland will avoid another early World Cup exit

Hooker Ross Ford is refusing to contemplate a repeat of Scotland's 2011 humiliating failure at this year's World Cup.

Four years ago, Andy Robinson's Dark Blues became the first Scottish team ever to be knocked out at the pool stage as they suffered a nightmare in New Zealand.

After unconvincing displays against Romania and Georgia, the Scots needed only to beat Argentina in Wellington to book a quarter-final slot.

But they suffered a hammer blow when Gonzalez Amorosino scored a last-gasp try for the Pumas and their hopes of making the last eight were killed off when they failed to beat England in Auckland.

Ford is one of six remaining members of that team who will travel south along with Al Dickinson, Richie Gray, Al Strokosch, Richie Vernon and Sean Lamont.

But the Edinburgh front-rower believes Vern Cotter's class of 2015 will be better prepared as they ready themselves to battle with Pool B rivals Japan, the United States, South Africa and Samoa.

Ford - who was one of three hookers named in the 31-man squad which will travel south ahead of their September 23 opener with the Cherry Blossoms - said: " It was a massive, massive disappointment four years ago in New Zealand.

"But we're not thinking about that. This time the focus is to do as well as we can in the group and put ourselves in the best possible position after that.

"It was not an ideal situation this last time but we can only focus on the present.

"I think it's a really good squad we're taking down there. The strength in depth is the best I've seen for a long time.

"In every position you've basically got competition for places. We could pretty much put out two teams that would be fairly strong against anyone.

"It's been good over the past couple of warm-up games to show that.

"It's going to take a whole squad to get through the World Cup and perform well in each game to get the results we want."

Cotter has already warned his team against complacency when they take on Japan and the US before their potentially decisive clashes with the Springboks and Samoa in Newcastle on October 3 and 10.

And Ford proved the message has already sunk in.

"People are always going to look at the big teams like the South Africas and the Samoas as the most important games," he said.

"But at a World Cup, you can see that everybody has that extended time together. It's not like a run of the mill autumn Test where you've only got a couple of weeks together before the game.

"This time round teams have had a proper two to three months to work together and to get to know their systems down to a T. Each team you come up against are going to be far better than you have experienced in the past.

"So you have to look at each game as unique, one-off scenarios, no matter who you play. We know every Test will be hard. We will just look to perform in every game, regardless of who we come up against."

Meanwhile, lock Jim Hamilton has announced he is quitting Test rugby - 24 hours after missing out on the Dark Blues' World Cup squad.

The 32-year-old Saracens forward made his decision to retire after he failing to make Cotter's cut.

Born in Swindon, Hamilton qualified to wear the thistle thanks to his Scottish army solider father James.

He was the 1000th player to win Scotland honours when he made his debut against Romania in November 2006 and went on to win 63 caps, including appearances at both the 2007 and 2011 World Cups.

Confirming his decision on his Twitter account, Hamilton said: "Today is both a sad day and a day that I feel extremely proud to have had. For I announce my retirement from international rugby.

"I have loved every single moment of wearing the thistle and feel extremely humble to have done it for nine years.

" Scottish rugby has not only given me an opportunity to play rugby at the highest level but has given me a platform to be a better man.

"I wish everyone involved with Scottish rugby all the best and I know consistent success is around the corner #63andout."


From Belfast Telegraph