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Scotland lock Ben Toolis looking to learn from Six Nations experience

Ben Toolis knows he may struggle to get a game for Scotland during the RBS 6 Nations but he reckons it will still be a golden opportunity.

The Edinburgh second-rower is one of five locks named by Vern Cotter in his squad ahead of the Championships.

He admits he is likely to be left in reserve, with brothers Jonny and Richie Gray certain to start the opener against Ireland on February 4, while Tim Swinson and Grant Gilchrist battle it out for a place on the bench.

However, Toolis - who won his only cap as a replacement against Italy in last year's Six Nations - believes the lessons he can learn from his colleagues will only improve his performances.

He said: "We have a lot of meetings and go through a lot of analysis, so there is plenty of opportunity to look at the other lads' games.

"I'm happy with the way I'm going and there is just a few little things I need to fix.

"The other guys are great to work with too. We're a team and even though we're competing for the same jerseys, there is nobody being selfish.

"I think the boys all want to help each other out because we know what we want to achieve in the Six Nations. They want to make sure that everyone is doing the right thing and if there is an injury, for example, whoever comes in does the job right."

Toolis did confess his scope for action will be limited, especially with the way the younger Gray sibling is performing at present.

The Glasgow skipper tops the Champions Cup tackling statistics and also leads the way for Warriors when it comes to ball carries in European competition.

"Jonny is a real workhorse," said Brisbane-born Toolis, who qualifies for the Dark Blues thanks to his Scottish mother. "He just never stops running. It's quite impressive, he keeps on going.

"The attitude he has is that he always wants to get better. That's good to see as he's such a great bloke too.

"He is one of the guys who is always trying to help the others. He is always giving feedback, sharing his opinions and tries to keep people involved.

"I'm sure he will be pushing for that Lions tour because he is one of the most in-form locks in Europe right now.

"Coming into the squad right now, my timing probably isn't the best because the second row is quite difficult to crack.

"But I'm just going to go with the flow and see what happens.

"The boys are all on form. Swinno is doing great, while Jonny and Richie always play well for Scotland. There's Gilcho in there as well.

"It is very tough but there's other guys in similar situation to me in the squad and we all need to keep sticking our hand up and let the coaches know we're ready."

The increased competition might be frustrating for Toolis, but he reckons the depth of talent across Cotter's squad means Scotland may succeed in kicking off their Six Nations also-ran tag.

He said: "Just looking at the squad that's been named, the depth we have from one to 15 is strong. Each guy could start and do a good job.

"But now look at positions like centre. We've probably got as many options there as we've ever had. Matt Scott has come back in but we've already got Alex Dunbar and Huw Jones playing really well.

"That's probably where Scotland have lacked in the past. We've usually had a good startling line-up but when we had an injury, the guys coming in might fill the role but nowhere near as well."

Meanwhile, Scottish Rugby has announced they will take on world champions New Zealand next autumn. The All Blacks will make their first visit to Murrayfield in three years on the weekend starting November 18.

A clash against Samoa has been organised for the week before, while Australia will close the series with the final Test clash on the weekend of November 25.


From Belfast Telegraph