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Zander Fagerson sees a bright future for Scotland

Rookie prop Zander Fagerson believes the future is bright for Scotland after their fresh-faced props stood up to the test against Australia.

Loosehead Allan Dell made his Dark Blues debut during Saturday's narrow 23-22 defeat to the Wallabies, while tighthead Fagerson was making his first international start.

They came up against an Australia front-row containing more than 200 caps but with the guidance of hooker Ross Ford - himself making his 100th Scotland appearance - did not disappoint head coach Vern Cotter as they put in a solid display against a team ranked third in the world.

Scotland have largely relied on Alastair Dickinson and WP Nel over the past 12 months but Glasgow forward Fagerson, 20, believes he and Dell have proved they are up to the job of taking on the best nations the game has to offer.

He said: "I'm really chuffed with Allan Dell. He has been absolutely awesome all week, he's a really good bloke.

"A lot of people have been playing us down for being so young but we definitely stepped up. We did some good things, we did some bad things but it was definitely a great day in the office for learning.

"We can't get ahead of ourselves as it's only one game but Delly put in a massive shift. I'm really proud of him.

"We've got guys like Rory Sutherland and Alastair Dickinson there still to come into things so our strength in depth is massively improved on.

"There are lots of young boys getting the chance to get involved now in every position. Guys like Magnus Bradbury and Ali Price have shown that so Vern does reward you if you're playing well for your club, so that can only be good for Scotland."

The Scots were left suffering a painful sense of deja vu after Bernard Foley - the man whose controversial late penalty knocked them out of last year's World Cup - struck again with a late conversion to squeeze Australia to another victory.

But Fagerson could not hide his delight after registering his first start for his country.

He said: "It was an amazing experience. The crowd was awesome. You could really hear them out there. It's a shame about the result but I loved being out there.

"The boys put in a hell of a shift and there is plenty to be proud of. We were just unlucky on the day.

"I wasn't involved in the World Cup but to lose by a point again brought back some nightmares for a few of the boys.

"For me, though, it will always be my first home start for Scotland and a day I will always look back on with fondness, irrespective of the result."

The result was not the one Cotter was looking for as he kicked-off his farewell tour.

The departing Kiwi will leave when his contract expires next summer, with Fagerson's current Scotstoun boss Gregor Townsend taking over.

But he thinks Cotter's message is beginning to take hold in the mind of his players.

"I think Scottish rugby is in a great place," said the Warriors front-rower. "Vern has done a great job since he came in.

"To put in a great performance like we did on Saturday is definitely something we can build on.

"That should be the benchmark for Vern's last seven games.

"We showed what we can do against Australia. There were a few things that didn't go our way but we showed the kind of running rugby that Vern has been trying to introduce. That's definitely the standard we want to set."

Meanwhile, Cotter has added uncapped Edinburgh forward Cornell Du Preez to his squad for next week's clash with Argentina in Edinburgh.

Lock Richie Gray and back-rower John Hardie are undergoing assements after sustaining head knocks during Saturday's defeat.

South Africa-born Du Preez qualifies for Scotland on residancy grounds. Equally at home on either flank or at number eight, the 25-year-old has been a consistent performer for Edinburgh, scoring 13 tries in his 66 appearances.


From Belfast Telegraph