When you ask Jason White if Saturday’s crunch match against Italy will be the biggest game of his career, the answer is no, and not because he’s belittling the task in hand. Far from it.
The Scotland captain concedes the final pool match, which his team must win to qualify for the knockout stages of the World Cup, is undoubtedly the biggest so far this season, but he sees the following game as even bigger than that.
Speaking at a media conference earlier today, he said: “It’s very important for me and for Scotland but we hope to have our most important game next week and then the week after that too.
“We’ve been very conscious of giving all of our opponents respect and taking it game by game. We’re expecting a physical challenge from the Italians. Their scrum is good but not quite as good as New Zealand’s. It was disappointing that they (the All Blacks) had a strong upper hand in our last pool match, Dicko [Alasdair Dickinson] did well on his first cap in the front row. We did okay given the circumstances.
“It’s the basics in rugby that count. Everyone knows the front five have to do well. We need to make sure our set piece is okay and we win our lineouts and take it from there.
“Everything is on cue, and our performances have improved every time since our first warm up game.”
White missed the previous encounter between the two nations in this year’s RBS Six Nations Championship due to a knee injury. The Italians scored three tries in quick succession within the first ten minutes of the match at Murrayfield, which they went on to win 37-17.
“That match has no bearing at all but that’s me saying that, not having been involved in the last one. It may be in some guys’ minds to go out and redress the balance after the Six Nations but for me it’s about our performance and I have every confidence we can do that on Saturday.
“Some of the younger guys who played in that game have more experience now and we can go into this reasonably happy with the way we’ve played so far and can look forward to the game.”
Scotland’s final pool C match at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in St Etienne kicks off at 9pm local time (8pm BST).