Scotland will bid to put Ireland's makeshift full-back Jordan Larmour under pressure, says coach
Gregor Townsend admits his Scotland side will have to be both wary of make-shift full-back Jordan Larmour and aware of how to exploit any deficiencies ahead of Sunday's World Cup opener.
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The head coach says his team will have to put in a perfect performance to overcome world number one Ireland but, especially with Ireland's injury worries, he's backing his boys to pull it off.
While the Scots are almost at full strength, Ireland will be without Rob Kearney, Keith Earls, Robbie Henshaw and Joey Carbery.
Larmour was the surprise pick to start at 15 ahead of Andrew Conway but Townsend is not convinced his selection means there will be an obvious weak spot in Schmidt’s back three.
“We have to be aware of who he is as a player and his strengths and areas where we can put him under pressure,” he said.
“But he’s an excellent player. If you give him space then he’ll exploit that.
“We know Rob Kearney is a key player for them and him not being available with Keith Earls means it’s a changed Irish team.
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“But it’s now an opportunity for Jordan Larmour, who is a very exciting talent.”
The Scots are outsiders to win the game at Yokohama’s International Stadium but Townsend fully believes his team are capable of knocking down Joe Schmidt’s side in their first Pool A clash.
He said: “We have to take our opportunities and we have to limit the opportunities Ireland get.
“Ireland have shown in recent years that they do take their chances and they punish teams.
“They kick it into the opposition 22 and they come away with points.
“We have to win every big moment in the game. Whether that’s a ruck, a tackle or the execution of a pass, we have to be there.
“I believe in the team and with the individuals we have in our squad I believe we will create chances. It’s about taking them.”
Townsend is relying on experience to see the Scots through this weekend. No Dark Blues line-up has ever walked out at a World Cup boasting more caps than the 630 collectively held by the 15 players set to be led by skipper Stuart McInally.
Ireland’s gameplan will almost certainly be based on strangling the creative flair Townsend’s troops so rely on but the Scotland coach hopes the nous his men have built up will keep them out of trouble.
“We have something like a combined total of 630 caps so that’s hugely important,” said the coach, who had to leave Blair Kinghorn out of his matchday squad after he suffered a delayed recurrence of his concussion symptoms following a head knock against Georgia a fortnight ago.
“This is the first time this squad has nearly all been fit and available.
“We’re missing probably just two of three players from every available Scotland player so to get a squad that has this kind of experience for this kind of game is a real bonus.”