Scots In Familiar Territory

Scotland assistant coach Alan Tait today reflected that the territory Scotland face in their final World Cup pool C match at the weekend had confronted them four years ago in Australia. On that occasion in Sydney the winner-takes-all pool contest pitted the Scots against Fiji. In St Etienne on Saturday, Italy lie in wait at the Stade Geoffroy Guichard.

Scotland assistant coach Alan Tait today reflected that the territory Scotland face in their final World Cup pool C match at the weekend had confronted them four years ago in Australia.

On that occasion in Sydney the winner-takes-all pool contest pitted the Scots against Fiji. In St Etienne on Saturday, Italy lie in wait at the Stade Geoffroy Guichard.

Tait, who won both the first and last of his 27 Scotland caps at World Cups, said: "I was involved in 2003 as a coach and it was the same then. We had to beat Fiji to qualify for the quarter-finals. As the week goes on the tension builds and builds. Here you can feel it already. The key for us is to look to get everything right for our match against Italy on Saturday night.

"It's a massive game for us and for Italy too. I think you should always be a little bit nervous going into a game of this magnitude and that certainly never did me any harm."

He was speaking as the Scotland medical team confirmed that all 30 players in the squad would be available for selection for Saturday's match, where, realistically both teams are competing for second place in the pool given that leaders New Zealand are currently five points ahead with one game, against Romania, to go. Scotland sit in second place on 10 points with Italy third on eight points.

Three Scotland players were unable to train today - full-back Hugo Southwell (calf) lock Scott MacLeod (ankle) and stand-off/wing Chris Paterson (blurred vision) were continuing to recover from the injuries they sustained against the All Blacks on Sunday.

Scotland No 8 Simon Taylor was among the players to attend today's media interviews and he stressed that revenge for Scotland's defeat by Italy in the RBS 6 Nations Championship at Murrayfield earlier this year was not a personal motivation. His goal was the "massive reward" of reaching the World Cup quarter-finals.

His team-mate, wing Sean Lamont, cautioned against reading too much into Italy's form thus far in the World Cup, arguing that they have been targeting this fixture for a long time. "We know they will come out all firing and that it's as big a game for them as it is for us," he reasoned.

Hooker Ross Ford was keen to remind the media that Scotland must get the basics right at the weekend. "To be honest you approach every game the same. It does not matter who the opposition is - you know it's going to be physical up front. You go in with the same mindset; to put pressure on their ball and make sure your setpiece is rock solid," he said.

Scotland's team for Saturday's match will be announced at 3pm UK time on Thursday.