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Weir driven by World Cup ambition

Duncan Weir's last-gasp drop goal against Italy last year was the highlight of his career so far - but the Scotland stand-off is determined it will not be his only moment to remember.

It is almost 18 months to the day since the Glasgow half-back rescued the Dark Blues from an RBS 6 Nations wooden spoon as he slotted over a crucial kick in Rome to claim a narrow win.

But since then not much has gone right for Weir or Scotland.

A hand injury ruled the 24-year-old out of this year's Six Nations, leaving him to watch through the cracks in his fingers as the Scots suffered a five-defeat whitewash.

But he will now be given his chance to show he is worth a place in Vern Cotter's 31-man World Cup squad when the national team take on Italy in their second warm-up Test in Turin on Saturday.

Weir is determined to use the memories of his last Azzurri clash to inspire his bid.

He told Press Association Sport: "I've only got fond memories of coming here to Italy. Coming back from injury last year, I used those images to keep myself focused during my rehab.

"Being a professional rugby player can be a bit of a roller coaster ride so it's about keeping yourself concentrated on those positive days and the ones that are special to you.

"That day was probably the highlight of my career so far. As a 10, you are often put in that position of responsibility when it comes to drop goals and it was such an amazing feeling when it went over.

"It is keeping me driving on to get more success like that. I want more days than that. I don't want to sit back and say I've had my moment. I want to sample that feeling many more times."

If Weir is to make the cut ahead of the global tournament - which begins for Scotland against Japan in Gloucester on September 23 - and then claim a starting slot, he will have to prove he can dictate play with more efficiency than club-mate Finn Russell, who made the most of Weir's Six Nations absence by putting in a string of daring displays.

Russell's confidence comes from a rock-solid inner resolve. Weir, though, insists he is not lacking the self-belief needed to take back the crucial playmaking role.

But the Rutherglen-born back also says he will not to let ego cloud his judgement.

"Obviously I believe in my abilities and I believe I'm the right man to help get the 'W'," he said. "But I think more in terms of the process and targets I need to achieve. Instead of thinking about my ego, I think about what I need to do in a game, how am I going to get the team playing, what decisions should I make.

"It's about thinking rationally. If you think emotively, that's when mistakes are made.

"I have found success thinking that way in the past. It's how the drop goal in Italy came about. I could have thought about the headlines but I just concentrated on the process of the kick - made sure I got my drop right, kept my head down, got my body into the right position.

"It can be hard balancing that process against the human part of your brain but you have to block it out because it won't help you put that drop-kick over the bar."

Weir's moment of glory followed two painful defeats to Ireland and England - the latter a 20-0 defeat at Murrayfield - and he admitted the team "badly needed" him to make his kick in Rome's Olympic Stadium and halt their decline.

The team could do with a repeat when they face the Italians this weekend after starting 2015 with six straight defeats.

But with the deadline for Cotter to pick his World Cup selection now only two weeks away, Weir is not so sure the players should be worrying about the importance of results over performances.

He said: "It's a hard stat to digest as a proud Scotsman but it's one you have to try to put to the back of your mind because we have to try and focus on the World Cup, which is all that matters in the end."


From Belfast Telegraph