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Greig Laidlaw only concentrating on Wallabies clash

By Andy Newport

Scotland skipper Greig Laidlaw admits he has been too busy trying to plot how to down Australia to comfort banned duo Ross Ford and Jonny Gray.

The Scots will battle the Wallabies for a place in the World Cup semi-finals at Twickenham tomorrow but will have to do without banned hooker Ford and lock Gray.

There was further bad news yesterday morning with confirmation that inside centre Matt Scott had failed a fitness test after straining his back, with the Edinburgh man replaced by Glasgow's Peter Horne.

Laidlaw is hurting for the distraught trio but admits he has yet to attempt to lift their spirits with the more pressing business of trying to find a way to upset those odds currently occupying his time.

The Gloucester scrum-half said: "We can probably do nothing at the minute to lift the boys. We need to focus on the game in hand. We will then pick these boys up later on if and when they get back.

"Unfortunately we've had to park that situation. Clearly we feel sorry for them but we have to concentrate on playing in the quarter-final of a World Cup.

"My job has been pretty easy getting the boys up for the match as they are desperate to play.

"Do we need to come out fighting after losing the three guys? We'd need to come out fighting regardless. We're in the quarters on merit and deserve our place."

Australia stars David Pocock and Israel Folau have lost their fitness battles.

Pocock has been ruled out by a calf problem sustained in the 15-6 victory over Wales last weekend and is replaced by Ben McCalman at No.8.

Folau suffered an ankle complaint in the same Pool A game and makes away for Kurtley Beale at full-back with Quade Cooper promoted to the bench.

Michael Hooper returns from suspension to start at openside while lock Rob Simmons is drafted into the starting XV, displacing Dean Mumm.

Head Coach Michael Cheika insists Scotland will be the Wallabies' most dangerous foes yet.

"This will be the most difficult game we play and that's not disrespecting our other opponents at all because every match has been tough, but this will be the toughest," Cheika said.

"Guarding against complacency is easy because we don't think we are complacent. I've seen a lot of the Scottish players saying they can win - and they can."

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