Scotland skipper raring to go

Scotland captain Jason White insists he will be ready to jump back in at the deep end of international rugby when he lines up against Ireland at Murrayfield this weekend.

After nine months out with a serious knee injury, the 29-year-old back-rower returns to the Scotland side and to the captaincy for the first of two warm-up games ahead of next month’s Rugby World Cup.

Scotland play South Africa at the same venue later this month, but White could wait no longer for a match.

“I’m delighted to be back,” said White.

“I was out for a long time, but I’ve been really lucky to have first-class rehab right throughout my time – from the people at Sale, (knee specialist) Bill Knowles over in America and all the guys here at Murrayfield – so I’m now raring to go.

“Training has gone really well. My knee has grumbled once or twice, but apart from that it has responded really well and I just can’t wait to get back on the pitch and be involved in a competitive game.

“It will be tough coming back into a full international, whereas normally you might play a couple of games for your club and ease yourself in, but it’s the situation we are in and I’ve been training with the international squad for the past eight weeks so I feel up to speed with everybody else.”

Despite the lengthy lay-off after he ruptured the cruciate ligament in his knee against Romania last November, White was never too concerned about his rugby future.

“I always believed I was going to be fine,” he said.

“It’s quite a common injury and the recovery rate is very high, so the whole time I always believed I would come back.

“You really appreciate playing for Scotland when you’re not able to.

“It’s something I’m proud to do and I cherish, and when you can’t do it, when it’s suddenly taken away from you it’s hard. It was a real goal and motivating factor for me during rehab – to come back and play for Scotland again.”

White believes that the intensity of Scotland’s summer training schedule will stand in him good stead on Saturday.

“The competition in the squad is really full-on and I know as well as anyone that I have to produce the goods to get myself in the team, so you have to go flat out in training, and all the live stuff we’ve done has been very competitive,” he said.

“The first day George Graham [Scotland’s forwards coach] had me doing a drill with five defenders and one attacker, and you pretty much realise that your body can handle anything after that – that got me over the hurdle of worrying about my knee, so I’ve got no fears about playing.

“So I don’t think I’m going to lack anything fitness wise, it’s just about being in the live game scenario. We’ve tried to replicate that in training as much as possible by playing 15 against 15 and the 10s tournament [in St Andrews], but it’s the fact I’ve not actually done it in a real game playing 40 minutes consecutively in nine months which might take a bit of time for me to get over.”

White will reunite with Simon Taylor and Allister Hogg on Saturday for the first time since that trio were voted the back row of the tournament at the conclusion of the 2006 RBS 6 Nations Championship.

He is looking forward to teaming up with his old partners in crime.

“There’s a lot of competition in the back row, which is great for everyone,” said White. “It pushes us on and forces us to improve.

“I don’t want to come back and be a bit-part player. I want to come back and be better than I was before.

“Myself, Simon and ‘Hoggy’ work really well together. They are both excellent players, but the most important thing in rugby is that it is a team game, and how well the back row do depends an awful lot on how well your front five does and on Saturday how well stand-off manages to get the centres involved.

“If everyone else can do their job well then it is all linked, so that mak

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