Hadden happy with Scotland’s progress

Scotland head coach Frank Hadden watched two of his most important players take a major step along the path from injury to full match fitness – then turned his attention to the visit of Ireland to Murrayfield.

Hadden was thrilled to see Jason White and Mike Blair back in action on Tuesday night but is now focused on the first of Scotland’s two World Cup warm-up games, which takes place on August 11.

Their other match is against South Africa a fortnight later, with both being played in Edinburgh.

White had been out of action since last November, when he ruptured the cruciate ligament in his right knee playing for Scotland against Romania, meanwhile a shoulder injury had kept Mike Blair on the sidelines since January.

But both players looked impressively sharp when they took to the field in an internal 10-a-side tournament in St Andrews.

“I’m delighted to see them come through that,” said Hadden.

“Obviously it was at the back of all our minds that they were vulnerable to injury because they had been out for so long, but I think they both showed that they are in fine fettle.”

Turning his attention to the clash with Ireland, Hadden added: “As of Friday all our focus is going to be on playing Ireland and it is a match we desperately need our supporters to be behind us for.

“What we need to do is generate a bit of momentum going into the World Cup – and what better way of doing that than knocking off one of the big favourites for the tournament.”

That match is certain to have an edge to it, after Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan accused a Scotland player of choking Ronan O’Gara when the two sides met in the Six Nations Championship in March.

But that is not the only reason Hadden believes his team have a score to settle.

Hadden added: “Three times this year Scotland sides have lost by a point to Ireland.

“The senior side lost 19-18 to them at Murrayfield in the Six Nations, Scotland A lost 22-21 to Ireland A in the Churchill Cup in June, and in April the Under-19s lost by only a point to them as well – so I think we owe them one.

“We think we’ve had a good summer, but we’ll only find out how good it has been after these matches.

“We have two incredibly tough games against two very good sides. Ireland have been together for two years, so everyone know what their first team is and how dangerous that side can be; meanwhile the South Africans are going to be on a real high after knocking off the All Blacks at home.

“So these are two very tough tasks, and we really do need our supporters behind us.”

For Hadden there is a distinct danger that the return of White and Blair will be offset by injuries to Scott Lawson and Sean Lamont.

Lawson rolled his ankle, while Lamont hurt his knee on Tuesday.

“They look as if they’ll have to be re-assessed over the next couple of days,” said Hadden.

“A few of the other guys picked up bumps and bruises too, but those were just the sort of knocks you expect in these sorts of situations.”

365 Digital

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