Townsend on selection v Japan

Townsend on selection v Japan

Scotland's decisive Pool A finale remains scheduled for the International Stadium Yokohama tomorrow, with the imminent arrival of Typhoon Hagibis a major talking point at the national team announcement press conference.

Scotland must defeat their hosts for a chance to progress to the quarter-finals, with four or more championship points than their opponents glean from the game required to guarantee safe passage to the last eight.

The Scots have defeated Japan three times in the past four years (45-10 in the last world cup and 26-13 and 21-16 on the 2016 summer tour), however the unbeaten Pool leaders have shown themselves to be one of the form teams of this year’s tournament.


Scrum-half Greig Laidlaw will captain the side named to face Japan and returns as one of seven who missed the Samoa win. He is joined by rested stand-off Finn Russell, back-row Blade Thomson, lock Jonny Gray, full-back Stuart Hogg, centre Sam Johnson and prop Allan Dell, with Saracens wing Sean Maitland unfit to play.

Fraser Brown – rewarded with his first start of the campaign at his favoured position of hooker – prop Willem Nel, lock Grant Gilchrist and centre Chris Harris all start, while the back-row that impressed against Samoa also earns reselection: Magnus Bradbury, Jamie Ritchie and Blade Thomson.

Wings Darcy Graham and Tommy Seymour complete the back-three with full-back Hogg.

Head Coach Gregor Townsend in Yokohama

Team announcement press conference

How difficult a decision was it to opt for Fraser Brown over Stuart McInally?

“We believe for this game – and for the way Fraser has been playing – the balance of Fraser starting and Stuart coming off the bench is the right way to go for a number of tactical reasons and to reward Fraser’s really good form over the last three games.

“Fraser has been excellent since coming back from injury. We have seen Stuart improving in training and believe he can have a big impact in the second half.”

Have Pete Horne and Blair Kinghorn been rewarded for their performance with a spot on the bench?

“Duncan Taylor has been involved in the first three games and played 80 minutes on Wednesday night.

“He is in much better shape but between the Georgia home game and Ireland, he took a while to get over Achilles and calf strains. We believe with the short turnaround it might not be in his best interests to play in this game.

“Pete played really well against Russia, his effort was outstanding, he carried the ball and defended well.

“He gives us cover at 10 as well. Blair Kinghorn could have been involved against Ireland but was ruled out with a head injury.

“He had an excellent game on Wednesday and he can make a real impact off the bench.”

How will the team spend Saturday during the typhoon?

“We won’t be going outside that’s for sure. We will take advice to stay indoors. We will have meetings.

“We may do a walk through or may have some movement. The forwards always want to do a lineout walk through. Something you have to adapt and deal with.

“We have had one training session between our last game and Sunday’s game. We built a lot of work into playing Japan before we played Russia.

“We have adapted well. The players are well prepared.”

How has all the talk Typhoons affected preparations?

“We believe that the game hasn’t been cancelled because the weather will be better on Sunday and it looks like the game will be played.

“That’s what we have to put faith in, that they have made that call with a lot of certainty and confidence that the game will be played on Sunday night.

“I hope everyone involved in the tournament wants the game to be played and will do their utmost for the game to be played.

“We have got to believe, and have faith in the organisers, that the game will be played, even if it is behind closed doors or played at a different venue.

“This is a Rugby World Cup, the biggest tournament we play in once every four years, the third biggest sporting event in the world.

“I’m sure that has been in the minds of those who arranged the fixtures as well as the weather forecast for the next two or three days.”

Is it responsible to send teams and fans to areas affected by the typhoon?

“The advice would be to stay inside and we will heed that advice. Japan is a country that deals with natural disasters a fair bit and a lot of typhoons.

“So there will be disruption, but I think if you stay inside, that would be the advice we would send to all Scottish fans that are out there. That is what we will be doing as a rugby team, for sure, and we have to look forward to playing on Sunday night.

“We know this is a tight turnaround. Japan have had a good rest going into this game, like they have for all their games.

“We have always known we would have a three-day turnaround. The players are firmly focused on what we need to do to win this game.”

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