SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Scotland launch their June tour with a match against Italy on Saturday, hoping to give new coach Gregor Townsend a winning start in the unique environment of the Singapore National Stadium.
As the Southeast Asian nation plays host to a Tier One test for the first time, the Scots are vowing not to let the hot and humid conditions anticipated at a venue just north of the equator have a major impact on their speedy style of play.
“I think everyone is trying to play fast rugby these days but sometimes you can get away from that and forget the basic principles,” Scotland captain John Barclay told reporters after the captains’ runs on Friday.
“Maybe sometimes it won’t come off but as long as the intent is there, along with the speed, you can reap the benefits of that,” the Scarlets loose forward added.
“Test match rugby is always fast and always much tougher than club rugby, so that’s a challenge you constantly face.”
Forwards coach Dan McFarland echoed his captain’s views as he looked forward to taking part in his first match coaching at international level.
“Our ability to play fast rugby is what we are seeking to do. That is our strength and we want to play our game, as a fast game is a good game,” he said.
“Clean lineout ball, good scrums and good mauls will enable us to play the type of rugby we want to play,” he added, while noting that Italy’s forwards will present a major challenge for his side.
“Italian packs have always been strong. They are strong around the maul, around the scrum, and those areas will be big tests for us.”
Italy have selected a youthful side for the match and captain Edoardo Gori knows they will need to keep intensity levels high if they wish to avoid a similar result to the 29-0 drubbing they suffered in the Six Nations in March.
“Scotland are a tough side and it’s always a demanding match. They seem to have improved in the last few years but our goals will be to give them a tough a contest as possible,” the 27-year-old scrumhalf said.
“It was a very bad defeat, so we will hope to make amends tomorrow.”
Gori was also looking forward to being involved in a little part of history as Singapore welcomes two Tier One nations for the first time.
“We feel honoured to be involved in making history at this venue, we know conditions will be tough for both us and the Scots but we are happy to be playing at such a wonderful venue.”
Both sides will also travel to Fiji and Australia for the remaining matches of their respective June tours.
Editing by Mark Heinrich