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Warm welcome for Scotland


Andy Robinson

Andy Robinson

Andy Robinson

Scotland were given a rousing reception on their arrival in New Zealand on Wednesday ahead of Saturday's World Cup Pool B opener with Romania in Invercargill.

Head coach Andy Robinson and his 30-man squad arrived at the southern tip of New Zealand's south island from their training camp on Australia's Gold Coast and were met by a crowd of more than 500, including senior figures of the local community, Maori warriors, school children, a piper and numerous members of the public wearing kilts, Scotland jerseys and waving the Saltire.

Captain Alastair Kellock had the honour of accepting the key to the city and to respond to the address by a community leader. Kellock said: "To come down those stairs was probably the most intense feeling I've experienced off a rugby park and I'd like to say a massive thank you."

He added: "Many of us have been to Invercargill before and we know that there will be many things here will remind us of Scotland - it's great to see a piper, but probably the most obvious one I'm talking about is the weather.

"We are hugely proud to be your guests for our first two games and like you, I'm sure, are raring to go, wanting the World Cup to get started. It's been a long time in preparation for us as well.

"I'm hoping to see you all at a packed out Southland Stadium on Saturday. Thank you very much for your hospitality."

Robinson will name his team to play Romania on Thursday.

With a clash with Georgia following next Wednesday, the proximity of the games means Robinson is likely to utilise almost the entirety of his squad in the two matches in Invercargill to assess his options for the September 25 game with Argentina and the October 1 clash with England.

Scotland are poised to name a strong team, with no fitness concerns reported. Key front row forwards Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford and Geoff Cross were among those to make a swift getaway from the airport while around half the squad remained to mix with the crowd.

Also departing early were Kellock and Richie Gray, while Rory Lawson waited until late on suggesting Chris Cusiter or Mike Blair will have the first opportunity at scrum-half.

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