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Rugby World Cup: Bryce aiming to seize surprise Scotland lifeline

Hooker left stunned by late World Cup call-up

By Gavin McCafferty

Glasgow hooker Kevin Bryce admitted his World Cup call-up came completely out of the blue after he replaced the injured Stuart McInally in the Scotland squad.

Bryce - who was not even named in Vern Cotter's initial 46-man training squad - was given the surprise news yesterday afternoon after McInally failed to recover from a neck injury.

Bryce won his first call-up in Scotland's 2014 summer tour, but did not feature off the bench after being called up as cover ahead of their warm-up win over Italy in Turin last month.

And the 27-year-old did not suspect anything despite being told on Sunday to report to Murrayfield yesterday.

Bryce, who played in Glasgow's Guinness PRO12 win over Connacht on Friday, said: "It was quite a shock and it's not quite sunk in yet. I have been on the fringes and went away to Italy but I never thought I was going to get the phone call.

"I always thought it was an outside bet. I never thought I would be going to a World Cup."

Bryce was stunned when Cotter delivered the news.

"His exact words were, 'You're in, congratulations'," he said. "I wasn't quite ready for it.

"I got a phone call on Sunday to come in. I had a couple of niggles from the game on Friday so I had to come in and see everything was all right.

"The Scotland doctor wanted to see I was all right but I never thought anything of it. I trained in the morning and got told at lunchtime."

Bryce has one full day to prepare for Scotland's departure for their first base in Gloucester tomorrow, ahead of their opener against Japan on September 23.

And his tasks include letting down his son Leighton ahead of his eighth birthday celebrations.

Bryce said: "I got a quick call in to my old man. He was on a building site and was quite taken aback. He wasn't quite ready for it but he was happy.

"I've got one day to get everything ready, I have loads to get organised. I've got a wee boy and I've just booked his birthday party. I might need to miss that. I will need to let his mum know and get him a Scotland strip.

"To be honest I don't think he cares that much, I don't think he understands yet."

Bryce still appeared to be in shock as he spoke about his call-up but he is determined to make the most of it.

Bryce, who has two caps, said: "He (Cotter) did say keep myself fit and play well for Glasgow and hopefully an opportunity would come my way. It has and hopefully I can grasp it with two hands.

"I've had a good pre-season and have played a couple of games so I'm match-fit.

"I can get excited now. That's the pinnacle of a career, to reach a World Cup squad."

Cotter felt Bryce's versatility made him the right replacement.

"Our hookers can play loose-forward and Kevin as an ex-loose-forward ticks the boxes, he can cover two positions," Cotter said. "He came with us to Canada last year and played loose-forward in a game and came with us to Italy as back-up. He knows the squad.

"He's a very good ball-carrier, he's an aggressive chap and works hard. We know he will give us everything he has got.

"I'm disappointed for Stuart. He has worked hard and to not be able to take part in the World Cup is tough on him."

Belfast Telegraph


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