Hadden’s troops unfazed by civil war

Scotland coach Frank Hadden insists the increasingly bitter power-struggle between the SRU and Edinburgh Rugby has not undermined his squad’s preparations for next month’s Rugby World Cup.

Speaking after an open training session in St Andrews on Thursday, Hadden praised the professionalism of his players and claimed he has never seen a side so focused on the task in hand.

“What I’ve been really delighted with has been the intensity of the whole thing,” said the coach.

“We generated a level of intensity during the fitness stage which I hadn’t seen before, and then when we transferred to the rugby stage of our preparation we wanted to keep that intensity going – and some of it has been as intense and competitive as I’ve ever seen it.

“I’m delighted with the sort of shape they are in.

“There’s no evidence of it [the SRU versus Edinburgh Rugby dispute] affecting the players, but then again I don’t go back to their rooms and discuss it with them.

“As far as I’m concerned they are totally focused on the task in hand, and I’ve not noticed any signs at all of them being distracted.”

The 39-man training party will be cut to 30 players on August 14, when the final squad for the World Cup is announced.

Hadden says the contest is still wide open, and he believes this competition for places has had a crucial role in the players being able to rise above the squabble which is threatening to derail professional rugby in Scotland.

He continued: “There has been a real competitive edge.

“The players know that nine of them have got to go next week – and everybody is determined to make that cut.

“I think they can all be satisfied with the effort they have put in.

“The supporters can rest assured that, in my opinion, the players couldn’t have tried any harder to make it difficult for the selectors next week.”

Asked about whether he is planning on experimenting against Ireland in next Saturday’s World Cup warm-up match at Murrayfield, Hadden said that securing a morale-boosting win is a far greater priority.

He explained: “The most important thing of all is trying to generate some momentum.

“During the Six Nations we had a good look at lots of players in lots of different positions – not necessarily intentionally but because of the injury situation – so we’ve had a good look at various combinations. Now we’ve got to try and settle on a side.

“George [Graham] Alan [Tait] and myself are going to sit down this afternoon and carry on our discussions.

“Alongside selecting for the Ireland game, we will be talking about the constitution of the World Cup squad as well. So it will be an ongoing process from here on in.

“We’ve not nailed anything down yet. I wouldn’t say there are a lot of opportunities for players to impress from here on in, but we just haven’t got round to making the decision.

“I said to the players in all honesty that I was going to remain open-minded until I have to make the decision.

“I wanted to keep them believing they’ve got a chance to be in the squad, and I wasn’t misleading them – I honestly feel that way.”

Hadden hinted that Scott Lawson might not have recovered from the ankle injury he sustained on Tuesday in time for the Ireland match – but he does not envisage it damaging the hooker’s chances of featuring in the World Cup.

Hadden said: ‘He seems to be the guy who has got the least chance of being available for Ireland, but we don’t think it is a long-term problem.

“It is difficult to tell if it is going to be two, three or four weeks, so we’ll just have to wait and see.”

If Lawson does not recover in time for the Ireland game then that would leave the door open for Glasgow’s Fergus Thomson to win his first cap.

 

365 Digital

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